Nikolaus Harnoncourt Receives RPS Gold Medal

01 Apr 2012

Nikolaus Harnoncourt received the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal from RPS Chairman John Gilhooly at the Barbican on Sunday 22 April 2012, to a standing ovation from the audience.

The on-stage presentation followed a performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, conducted by Harnoncourt.

In awarding the RPS Gold Medal to Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the citation of the society comments:

“Nikolaus Harnoncourt was a pioneer in the early period instrument revival, but much more besides. As a conductor his name is legendary with singers for his extraordinary vision into early, baroque, classical and even operetta. Performances with Harnoncourt are always unique and special.

Nearly 60 years ago he formed the Concentus Musicus Wien with period instruments, but he also works with most of the world’s main orchestras using modern instruments and was one of the earliest pioneers of this dual approach. His performances of the Monteverdi operas along with the Mozart cycle in Zurich stand as landmark events.  He is a man who is dedicated to music and humanity.”

The RPS Gold Medal was initiated in 1870 to commemorate the centenary of Beethoven’s birth and bears the effigy of Beethoven. It is the Society’s highest honour and is awarded internationally for the most outstanding musicianship.

Here’s a video of the presentation:


Placido Domingo, world renowned tenor and conductor. RPS Gold Medal Member and Patron of the Susan Chilcott Scholarship.


Before there were traffic lights: coachmen delivering audience members to Philharmonic Society concerts at the Harmonic Institution were asked to ‘set down and take up with their horses’ heads facing Piccadilly’.