Royal Philharmonic Society celebrates 200th anniversary in 2013

Charlotte Smith8th Nov 2012
The Royal Philharmonic Society is celebrating its bicentenary in 2013 The Royal Philharmonic Society is celebrating its bicentenary in 2013 (photo: RPS)

The Royal Philharmonic Society, the UK’s oldest concert society, will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2013 with a year of performances, talks and exhibitions, both in the UK and the US. Building on the legacy of its most famous commission, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (requested in 1817 and completed in 1824), the RPS has commissioned 16 new works to be performed throughout the year by composers including Harrison Birtwistle, Wolfgang Rihm, Magnus Lindberg, Poul Ruders, Judith Weir and Richard Rodney Bennett.

Together with the BBC and New York Philharmonic, the Society has also co-commissioned a major work in response to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to be premiered at the BBC Proms. Other Beethoven-inspired events include an exhibition of historic scores annotated by the composer, which will be displayed at the Morgan Library in New York; a UK concert tour for Johann Schaller's 1871 bust of Beethoven, which was often displayed at RPS concerts during the 19th and 20th centuries; and a new iPad app exploring the Ninth Symphony.

On January 24, 2013 - the exact date of the anniversary – there will be a National Listening Day on Classic FM featuring many key works originally commissioned or premiered by the Society, and a birthday concert given by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Tugan Sokhiev at the Royal Festival Hall, to be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Also taking part in RPS200 are the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé, Britten Sinfonia, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and National Youth Choir. New York celebrations in autumn 2013 will be led by the New York Philharmonic (which was founded in 1842 on the model of the Philharmonic Society of London), and the Juilliard School.

‘Treasures from the RPS Archive’, including scores, and correspondence with leading composers and musicians will also be on show at RPS200 exhibitions at the British Library and Barbican Music Library.

Visit the Royal Philharmonic Society website for full details of the year’s events.

Watch an amusing promotional video for RPS200 below:

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