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 annually welcomes nominations for Honorary Membership from RPS Members and colleagues across the music profession. Nominations will re-open in Autumn 2019. At that stage, those eligible to nominate can email us with details of your nominee and a citation of 300 – 500 words outlining why you believe they are deserving of such an accolade. If you would like to find out how to nominate, please email Robin Sheffield.

From those nominated, a shortlist is created on which the distinguished members of the RPS Board of Trustees and Council will vote. Wherever possible the Gold Medal is presented publicly on the concert platform.

Related Pages


Sir Simon Rattle, principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic: RPS Gold Medal Awarded in 1999.


Alina Ibragimova, who won the 2010 RPS Young Artist Award, first received help from the RPS to buy a new bow when she was only 14.