RPS Honorary Membership

Honorary Membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society is awarded in recognition of services to music.

Recipients have included composers, conductors, performers, music commentators, patrons, programmers, publishers and educationalists.

The first recipient in 1826 was the composer Carl Maria von Weber. Among the many celebrated names on the list are Felix Mendelssohn (1829), Gioachino Rossini (1839), Hector Berlioz (1859), Richard Wagner (1860), Johannes Brahms (1882), Clara Schumann (1887), Igor Stravinsky (1921), Aaron Copland (1970), Paul Sacher (1991) and Evelyn Barbirolli (2001).

Honorary Membership has recently been awarded to composer Sir George Benjamin; celebrated pianists Stephen Hough and Graham Johnson; conductors Marin Alsop and Sir Mark Elder; visionary opera director Graham Vick; Dame Fanny Waterman, founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition, and Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema.

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 and made a profound difference to diversity in music making. They are Ricardo Castro, Armand Diangienda, Aaron P. Dworkin, Rosemary Nalden and Ahmad Sarmast (pictured above).

The Royal Philharmonic Society is currently welcoming nominations for Honorary Membership from RPS Members and colleagues across the music profession. If you would like to nominate someone, please send an email to Robin Sheffield, General Manager with details of your nominee and a citation of 300 – 500 words outlining their outstanding services to music and what they have done to place them among those Honorary Members listed above. The closing date for nominations is midday on Tuesday 8 January 2019. From those nominated, a shortlist is created on which the distinguished members of the RPS Board of Trustees and Council will vote. The Gold Medal will then be presented later in 2019. Where ever possible the medal is presented publicly on the concert platform.

Related Pages


Dame Janet Baker CH DBE, legendary mezzo-soprano: awarded RPS Honorary Membership in 1987 and the RPS Gold Medal in 1990


In 1824 the Philharmonic Society paid Beethoven 50 pounds to commission his 9th Symphony.