200 Years at the Heart of Music

2013 was a landmark year for the Royal Philharmonic Society as it celebrated 200 years at the heart of British music.

Bicentenary celebrations throughout 2013 put the spotlight on the Society’s unparalleled contribution to music and included new commissions from leading and emerging composers; a nationwide programme of live performances, debates, exhibitions, broadcasts, and an enhanced programme of practical support for young musicians. New digitisation of the RPS Archive at the British Library offered further insight into the RPS' remarkable legacy, while a new iPad app focused on our most famous commission, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. A heritage plaque was also unveiled by Westminster Council on Regent Street in central London on the site of the Argyll Rooms where the RPS hosted concerts for many years in the 19th Century. Special Awards were made to five extraordinary musicians around the globe, each making music in challenged communities. To mark the RPS Bicentenary, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy wrote a poem entitled Philharmonic.

The occasion also brought birthday wishes from a great many musical luminaries worldwide. RPS Gold Medalist Alfred Brendel said:

“It’s good to hear that the RPS is continuing to stir things up, and growing old disgracefully: we need organisations like the RPS to remind us that young artists take time to develop, that composers require opportunities for their voices to be heard and that serious music and musicians are vital, and should be valued. Great artists never stop learning, and great musicians never stop listening."