Welcome to the RPS

A warm welcome to the Royal Philharmonic Society.

You may not have heard of us before, but we’ve been here – at the heart of classical music-making in the UK – for over 200 years, and we’d be delighted to tell you more about everything we do.

You may be wondering how we differ from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra? There is of course a rather good story about that, linked at the end of this page.

The Philharmonic Society was established by a group of musicians back in 1813 eager for a wider public to recognise the worth and excitement of classical music. Among them were:

4 portraits of people

They set out to establish the regular concert culture and repertory that thrives nationwide to this day. They drew world-class artists from the continent for the first time, including Mendelssohn and Wagner, establishing the UK as an essential destination for great music.

They commissioned exhilarating new music for an eager public to hear – most famously, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. If you’re walking up Regent Street in London, look out for the heritage plaque on the NatWest bank near Oxford Circus, as this was the site of the Society’s former concert hall, the Argyll Rooms, where Beethoven’s masterpiece was heard in the UK for the first time. Since then, the Society has continued to do all it can to help musicians who – like our founders – strive to enrich society with all that they do.

Through grants, commissions, mentoring and performance opportunities we help promising performers and composers at stages when they can often struggle, especially those taking their first professional steps and finding their voice. Through our Awards and honours, we shine a light on important achievements in music and brings much-needed profile to endeavours deserving greater recognition. You can read more about all our charitable work here:

Much of our work goes on ‘behind the scenes’, in partnership with musicians and musical organisations across the country. Yet for classical music to endure in times like these, all of us who make it happen need to draw back the curtain, and share with music lovers and the wider public a greater picture of all the wonderful, worthwhile things occurring through music that they may not readily see or hear. In the spirit of our founders, we want to give the nation a fresh appreciation of the vibrant, invaluable musical ecology on its doorstep.

We offer you this through RPS Membership. You’ve always been able to become a Member of the RPS: Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann and Stravinsky were Members themselves. But recently we’ve refreshed everything that Membership has to offer. Welcoming music lovers and music makers equally, it’s a way to feel more connected with what’s going on in classical music, of encountering more of the passionate personalities and unsung heroes making great musical things happen nationally, and of discovering and listening to music in new ways.

RPS Membership is also a way of sharing your views. Too often we think of an audience’s role as simply to listen, but we want to hear what you have to say. As an RPS Member, we want to hear your views, and give you the chance to tell us, to tell the music profession, and other RPS Members why classical music matters to you, sharing your own musical discoveries with us. We think this is a vital part of fostering a brighter conversation about classical music nationally.

Best of all, every subscription helps our charitable endeavours, giving more musicians the opportunities they dearly need. So becoming an RPS Member doesn’t just nourish your own musical interests, it comes with the fulfilling sense that you’re playing a part and helping classical musicians to thrive. You can read more about everything that RPS Membership has to offer here:

Enjoy having a look around our website to find out more about the different things we do, and by all means be in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

The RPS Team

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