A Westminster City Council Green Plaque is to be unveiled at the site of the first UK performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony this Sunday, August 11. The plaque will be revealed at 252 Regent Street in London to mark the bicentenary of the Royal Philharmonic Society, which commissioned the Beethoven symphony in 1822. The Philharmonic Society, conducted by Sir George Smart, gave the first UK performance of the work on March 21, 1825 at the New Argyll Rooms - now the Regent Street branch of NatWest Bank.
The plaque will be unveiled to the accompaniment of Joie de Vivre, a new fanfare commissioned by the RPS from 18-year-old composer Bertie Baigent and performed by brass players from the National Youth Orchestra.
‘The RPS’s commission of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony must rate amongst the best £50 ever spent,’ said RPS chairman John Gilhooly. ‘Buildings come and go, but the essential nature of the human spirit, which Beethoven so perfectly encapsulates in his famous symphony, remains constant. I would like to thank Westminster City Council for marking this significant moment in London’s musical heritage, and for putting the Royal Philharmonic Society – which is Westminster born and bred - quite literally on the map.’
Launched in 1991, Westminster City Council’s Green Plaque Scheme draws attention to buildings in the London Borough of Westminster associated with people who have made lasting contributions to society. The scheme has also honoured Sir Edward Elgar, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Robert Browning and Voltaire.