Royal College of Music

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The Royal College of Music is a conservatoire established by royal charter in 1882, located in South Kensington, London, UK. The college regularly ranks as one of the world's leading conservatoires.Template:Fact

The college's buildings are on Prince Consort Road, next to Imperial College, directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall, near the Royal College of Art and five minutes' walk from the Science, Natural History and Victoria and Albert museums.



The National Training School for Music building, later home to the Royal College of Music (1883–94) and the Royal College of Organists (1903–91)

The college was founded in 1883 to replace the short lived and unsuccessful National Training School for Music (NTSM). The school was the result of an earlier proposal by the Prince Consort to provide free musical training to winners of scholarships under a nationwide scheme. After many years' delay it was established in 1876, with Arthur Sullivan as its principal. Conservatoires to train young students for a musical career had been set up in major European cities, but in London the long-established Royal Academy of Music had not supplied suitable training for professional musicians: in 1870 it was estimated that fewer than ten per cent of instrumentalists in London orchestras had studied at the academy.<ref name=wright>Wright, David "The South Kensington Music Schools and the Development of the British Conservatoire in the Late Nineteenth Century", Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Vol. 130, No. 2 (2005), pp. 236–282 Template:Subscription</ref> The NTSM's aim, summarised in its founding charter, was: Template:Quote The school was housed in a new building in Kensington Gore, opposite the west side of the Royal Albert Hall. The building was not large, having only 18 practice rooms and no concert hall. In a 2005 study of the NTSM and its replacement by the RCM, David Wright observes that the building is "more suggestive of a young ladies' finishing school than a place for the serious training of professional musicians."<ref name=wright/>

Under Sullivan, a reluctant and ineffectual principal, the NTSM failed to provide a satisfactory alternative to the Royal Academy, and by 1880 a committee of examiners comprising Charles Hallé, Sir Julius Benedict, Sir Michael Costa, Henry Leslie and Otto Goldschmidt reported that the school lacked "executive cohesion".<ref name=wright/> The following year Sullivan resigned, and was replaced by John Stainer. In his 2005 study of the NTSM, Wright comments: Template:Quote Even before the 1880 report it had become clear that the NTSM would not fulfil the role of national music conservatoire. As early as 13 July 1878 a meeting was held at Marlborough House, London under the presidency of the Prince of Wales, "for the purpose of taking into consideration the advancement of the art of music, and establishing a college of music on a permanent and more extended basis than that of any existing institution."<ref name=mt/> The original plan was to merge the Royal Academy of Music and the National Training School of Music into a single, enhanced organisation. The NTSM agreed, but after prolonged negotiations the Royal Academy refused to enter into the proposed scheme.<ref name=mt>"The Proposed College for Music", The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular, Vol. 23, No. 467 (January 1882), pp. 17–18 Template:Subscription</ref>

In 1881, with George Grove as a leading instigator, and with the support of the Prince of Wales, a draft charter was drawn up for a successor body to the NTSM. The Royal College of Music occupied the premises previously home to the NTSM, and opened there on 7 May 1883. Grove was appointed its first director.<ref name=mt83>"Royal College of Music", The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular, Vol. 24, No. 484 (June 1883), pp. 309–310 Template:Subscription</ref> There were 50 scholars elected by competition and 42 fee-paying students.<ref name=grove>Rainbow, Bernarr and Anthony Kemp. "London – Educational establishments", Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online, accessed 4 January 2012 Template:Subscription</ref>

Early years

Grove, a close friend of Sullivan, loyally maintained that the new college was a natural evolution from the NTSM.<ref name=wright/> In reality his aims were radically different from Sullivan's. In his determination that the new institution should succeed as a training ground for orchestral players, Grove had two principal allies: the violinist Henry Holmes and the composer and conductor Charles Villiers Stanford.<ref name=wright/> They believed that a capable college orchestra would not only benefit instrumental students, but would give students of composition the essential chance to experience the sound of their music.<ref name=wright/> The college's first intake of scholarship students included 28 who studied an orchestral instrument. The potential strength of the college orchestra, including fee-paying instrumental students, was 33 violins, five violas, six cellos, one double bass, one flute, one oboe and two horns.<ref name=wright/> Grove appointed 12 professors of orchestral instruments, in addition to distinguished teachers in other musical disciplines including Jenny Lind (singing), Hubert Parry (composition), Ernst Pauer (piano), Arabella Goddard (piano) and Walter Parratt (organ).<ref name=mt83/>


The old premises proved restrictive, and a new building was commissioned in the early 1890s on a new site in Prince Consort Road, South Kensington. The building was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield in Flemish Mannerist style in red brick dressed with buff-coloured Welden stone. Construction began in 1892 and the building opened in May 1894. The building was largely paid for by two large donations from Samson Fox, a Yorkshire industrialist, whose statue, along with that of the Prince of Wales, stands in the entrance hall.

Grove retired at the end of 1894, and was succeeded as director by Hubert Parry.<ref name=dnb>Young, Percy M. "Grove, Sir George (1820–1900)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, May 2006 accessed 2 November 2010 Template:Subscription</ref>

Later history

Parry died in 1918 and was succeeded as director by Sir Hugh Allen (1919–37), Sir George Dyson (1938–52), Sir Ernest Bullock (1953–59), Sir Keith Falkner(1960–74), Sir David Willcocks (1974–84), Michael Gough Mathews (1985–93), Dame Janet Ritterman (1993–2005) and Colin Lawson (2005–).

In addition to the college's permanent staff, faculty members at 2012 included well-known musicians such as Dimitri Alexeev, Barry Douglas, Håkan Hardenberger, John Lill, Colin Matthews, Sir Roger Norrington, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Roger Vignoles, and principals of the major London orchestras including the London Symphony, BBC Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestras.

Since its founding in 1882 the college has been linked with the British royal family. Its patron is currently Queen Elizabeth II. For 40 years Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was president; in 1993 the Prince of Wales became president.

A hall of residence serving 170 students was opened in 1994 in Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush.

The college is a registered charity under English law.


thumb, London]] The college teaches all aspects of Western classical music from undergraduate to doctoral level. There is a junior department, where 300 children aged 8 to 18 are educated on Saturdays.<ref name=official>Template:Cite web</ref>

Performance venues

The RCM's main concert venue is the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall: a 468-seat barrel-vaulted concert hall designed by Blomfield, built in 1901 and extensively restored in 2008–09. The Britten Theatre, which seats 400, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986 and is used for opera, ballet, music and theatre. There is also a 150-seat recital hall dating from 1965, as well as several smaller recital rooms, including three organ-equipped Parry Rooms.


The college's museum of instruments, forming part of the centre for performance history, houses a collection of more than 800 instruments and accessories from circa 1480 to the present. Included in the collection is a clavicytherium that is the world's oldest surviving keyboard instrument.

Owing partly to the vision of its founders, particularly Grove, the RCM holds significant research collections of material dating from the fifteenth century onwards. These include autographs such as Haydn's String Quartet Op. 64/1, Mozart's Piano Concerto K491 and Elgar's Cello Concerto. More extensive collections feature the music of Herbert Howells, Frank Bridge and Malcolm Arnold and film scores by Stanley Myers. Among more than 300 original portraits are John Cawse's 1826 painting of Weber (the last of the composer), Haydn by Thomas Hardy (1791) and Bartolommeo Nazari's painting of Farinelli at the height of his fame. A recent addition to the collection is a portrait of the Russian composer Alfred Schnittke by Reginald Gray.

10,000 prints and photographs constitute the most substantial archive of images of musicians in the UK. The RCM's 600,000 concert programmes document concert life from 1730 to the present day.

Alumni and faculty


Early RCM pupils included (clockwise from top left) Coleridge-Taylor, Holst, Vaughan Williams and Ireland

Since opening in 1882, the college has had a distinguished list of teachers and alumni, including most of the composers who brought about the "English Musical Renaissance" of the 19th and 20th centuries. Students in the time of Stanford and Parry included Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and John Ireland.<ref name=stanforddnb>Firman, Rosemary. "Stanford, Sir Charles Villiers (1852–1924), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 11 December 2011 Template:Subscription</ref> Later alumni include Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, Colin Davis, Gwyneth Jones, Neville Marriner, Gillian Weir, Trevor Pinnock, Anna Russell, Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Helfgott, and the guitarist John Williams.



External links

Template:Music schools in the United Kingdom