Recipients have included composers, conductors, performers, music commentators, patrons, programmers, publishers and educationalists.
Since 1826, when the first recipient was Carl Maria von Weber, Honorary Membership has been awarded fewer than 130 times.
Among the many celebrated names on the list are Mendelssohn (1829), Rossini (1839), Berlioz (1859), Wagner (1860), Brahms (1882), Clara Schumann (1887), Stravinsky (1921), Aaron Copland (1970), Paul Sacher (1991) and Evelyn Barbirolli (2001).
Recent awards of Honorary Membership have been made to Graham Vick, Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema; Festival Director, Brian McMaster; pianist, Graham Johnson; composer, George Benjamin; piano teacher, Fanny Waterman; music publisher and former RPS Chairman, Tony Fell; artist manager, Martin Campbell-White; and conductors Marin Alsop and Mark Elder.
In 2013, to celebrate the RPS Bicentenary, five special presentations were made to recipients who have all put music at the heart of some of the most challenged communities in the world, supported young musicians and made a profound difference to diversity in music making. They are: Ricardo Castro, Armand Diangienda, Aaron P. Dworkin, Rosemary Nalden and Ahmad Sarmast.