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Royal Music Library - George, Prince of Wales (1762-1830)

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales and future Prince Regent maintained his own band, which continued to serve him when he was crowned as George IV in 1820. He had also amassed his own collection of scores and performance parts, starting in the late 1770s and continuing well into the 19th century. These books, mainly printed not manuscript, are easily identifiable within the Royal Music Library by their Prince of Wales feathers, either stamped in gilt on the cover, or on occasion block-printed.

Block-print of the fleur-de-lis of the Prince of Wales.

Block-print of the fleur-de-lis of the Prince of Wales. The British Library, R.M.17.e.3. Copyright © The British Library Board

The Prince was a particular fan of Niccolò Jommelli, but there is also music from all over Europe which bears his crest on its bindings. Amongst these are large numbers of string quartets, which would presumably have been performed at the quartet parties which were so much in vogue at the time, either at Carlton House, or perhaps at the Brighton Pavilion. The composers represented include Felice Giardini and Adalbert Gyrowetz, both of whom frequently dedicated works to the Prince; but there is also some 16th-century music, so his interests may have extended in an antiquarian direction as well. We also know that he was fond of Haydn, Mozart, Cherubini, Beethoven, Rossini and Meyerbeer, and it was written of him, anonymously but often cited, that "he was not only a musician among princes, but a prince among musicians".


Dr Nicolas Bell
Music Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7772
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7751