ABO Award for the RPS

18 Jan 2013

The Royal Philharmonic Society has been honoured with the prestigious ABO Prize for its 'most important contribution to the orchestral life of the UK'.

The ABO Award is presented annually to the individual or institution considered by the membership to have made the most important contribution to the orchestral life of the UK.  The ABO Award is unique among the many prestigious awards and prizes in the music world because its recipient is nominated by the member orchestras themselves.

The Award was presented by violinist Nicola Benadetti to RPS Chairman John Gilhooly at the  ABO Annual Conference on 23 January 2013. In its citation the ABO Board said they had chosen to "honour an institution which, in the words of Richard Morrison of The Times, has for centuries “been the beating heart and conscience of British musical life”. The UK’s orchestral tradition started in 1813 when this institution, founded by a group of professional musicians, mounted the first public season of regular instrumental concerts. Driven by the sheer determination and musical passion of its directors (and despite numerous cashflow issues!) its Philharmonic seasons went on unbroken through two world wars.

New music has always been central to its ethos, which from the start fostered close associations with many composers including, among others, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Wagner (who led the 1855 season), Dvorak, Elgar and Vaughan Williams.  Where would orchestras be without Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, commissioned in 1822. Today it maintains a vigorous commissioning policy (quite startlingly half its total commissions have been made in the last 15 years).

200 years on and this unique organisation is still at the heart of music: supporting and working creatively with talented young performers, championing excellence, and encouraging audiences to listen to, and talk about, great music. And at a time when many august organisations might choose to sit on their laurels, the emphasis of its Bicentenary is as much on the music of the future as the many triumphs of the past. The ABO Award for 2012 goes to the Royal Philharmonic Society."


23 January 2013


Dame Fanny Waterman DBE, pianist, teacher and founder of the Leeds Piano Competition: awarded RPS Honorary Membership in 2011.


Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, commissioned by the Society in 1825, is still the most requested work on the BBC's Desert Island Discs.