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The Proms

The Proms, often known as The BBC Proms is the biggest classical music festival in the world.

The Proms is an annual eight-week season of daily orchestral classical music concerts. The main venue for The Proms is the Royal Albert Hall but other locations are also used.

Each season consists of over 70 concerts in the Albert Hall, a series of eight chamber concerts, and other educational and children's events.
DateFriday 16th July 2010 to Sunday 11th September 2016
LocationRoyal Albert Hall
Web linksRelated link

Venue details

Royal Albert Hall
Kensington Gore
Telephone No.Box Office: 020 7589 8212
informationVenue details
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History of the Proms

The Proms were the brainchild of Robert Newman, at the new Queen's Hall in London, where he was a manager. The first Proms concert was performed on 10th. August 1895. The original aim, which is still honoured, was to perform a wide choice of music of the highest standards to large audiences.

In February 1895, Robert Newman, after consultation, offered Henry Wood the position of being the conductor to the permanent orchestra at the Queen's Hall and of the first Proms season. Henry Wood was born in 1869 and was a famous organist, accompanist, vocal coach and conductor of choirs, orchestras and amateur opera companies.

The price was a shilling per 3 hour concert (unless you bought a season ticket), and they were a mixture of popular, familiar pieces and new and adventurous pieces, performed in an informal atmosphere, where you could eat, drink and smoke.

Newman also worked to improve the standards of orchestras (previously, orchestral performers were permitted to send deputies to all the rehearsals, attending on the performance night only), which was not popular at first, but was successful in 1904. He also introduced promising young talent at his Proms performances, and by 1920 had introduced leading composers of the time, such as Richard Strauss, Debussy, Ravel, Vaughan Williams and Rakhmaninov.

The publishers Chappell & Co. took over the lease of the Queen's Hall and the orchestra during the First World War. This was because Robert Newman ran into financial difficulties, as he and Henry Wood refused to bow to popular demand of not playing German music, saying that a lot of the great music of the time had originated in Germany. However, the Proms were losing money, and in 1927 Chappell & Co. withdrew their funding. The BBC had established themselves that very year as an organisation intending to inform, educate and entertain the public, the same vision as Henry Wood had for the Proms. Until the BBC Symphony Orchestra was formed and took over the Proms in 1930, the performances were by Sir Henry Wood and his Symphony Orchestra.

During the Second World War, the BBC could not support the Proms and then, on the 10th.May 1941 the Queen's Hall was bombed. Then in the following season the BBC were able to support the Proms again, now in the Royal Albert Hall.

On 28th.July 1944, Sir Henry Wood conducted his last concert, the 50th.anniversary of the Proms, aged 75 and sadly died 3 weeks later.

In the 1950's the Proms saw an increase on the number of orchestras taking part. The BBC Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Malcolm Sargent, and there were also London performances by Manchester's Halle Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony and the Liverpool Philharmonic.

In the 1960's the Proms saw many more changes. The musical programme was made even more experimental, reflecting musical trends around the world. Some non-British Orchestras played, such as the Moscow Radio Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. This was the time when the Proms moved from being a successful but relatively conservative enterprise into a major international festival.

Since then, the BBC has commissioned a few new works each season to bring audiences a wider view of music from around the world. The Proms' 100th.anniversary was celebrated in 1994, and now there are over 70 main Prom concerts every year.

The Proms has developed so much over the years, even down to synchronised programme notes on interactive television, but the original aim of Robert Newman and Sir Henry Wood has never changed and still operates, bringing a wide range of music, performed to the highest standards, to a wide range of people.