What We Do
For over 200 years, we’ve been at the heart of music, creating opportunities for musicians to excel, championing the vital role that music plays in all our lives.
It all began in 1813 when a group of musicians set out to establish a series of orchestral concerts in London. The Society’s regular performances attracted world-class artists including Mendelssohn and Wagner, and it commissioned exhilarating new music for an eager public to hear: most famously, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In its founding gesture, the Society created a lasting culture. Other orchestras found their footing and their music resounds across Britain today.
200 years later, the Society continues to celebrate and empower musicians who – like our founders – strive to enrich society with all that they do. Through grants, commissions and performance opportunities we help exciting young performers and composers find their voice. Through the renowned annual RPS Awards, we celebrate the quality, impact and ingenuity of the finest artists and creative forces at work today. Through our Membership we aim to cultivate national pride and curiosity in classical music, and rouse audiences to recognise the vital and valued role they play in the country's thriving musical heritage. Through all our endeavours, we are dedicated to proving classical music’s rightful and powerful place in society.
In unpredictable times, music fortifies and inspires us all. For this to continue, we need to help new generations of musicians fulfil their calling. The RPS is committed to supporting performers at the outset of their careers. By really understanding what they need, we can offer the right help, when they need it most. We offer much-needed funds to buy instruments, as well as chances to perform in distinctive settings, meet great counterparts and learn new skills.
The story of classical music is a story of innovation. Each generation has celebrated the artists of its time and, just as our predecessors gave Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Saint-Saëns the means to write music much-loved worldwide today, we too believe in helping today’s composers to shine. The RPS is renowned for commissioning new work, organising repeat performances, and establishing ways for composers to connect with pioneering forces from other artforms.
BBC Radio 3 says, ‘for classical, it’s the Oscars, the BAFTAs and the Grammys all in one’. Annually, we proudly present the RPS Awards, the benchmark for excellence and innovation in classical music. Alongside this, our prestigious Gold Medal is second to none, awarded to icons like Jessye Norman most recently, as well as Brahms, Stravinsky and Menuhin.
“Classical music will not survive unless we change our attitude and make it something that is essential to our lives. Join the RPS if you believe in the future of music.” Daniel Barenboim
What would any of us be without music? If, like us, you feel music is an enlivening, empowering force that's played a central part in your life, help us ensure a future where others can draw such worth from it too. In turn, Membership brings a range of benefits to further your curiosity and love of classical music. As a registered charity, every subscription helps us to help emerging musicians find their voice and fulfil their calling.
To find out more about Membership, please click here.
To find out more about supporting the Society’s charitable work more generally, please click here.
Humphrey Burton, first head of Music and Arts, BBC; founder/presenter of Young Musician of the Year and joint founder of the RPS Music Awards in 1989.
DID YOU KNOW?
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, commissioned by the Society in 1825, is still the most requested work on the BBC's Desert Island Discs.