In November 2002 the archive of the Royal Philharmonic Society was added to the British Library's collections following an appeal to raise the funds for the acquisition. Over its 190 year history, the Royal Philharmonic Society has been at the heart of musical life in Britain, and its archive is a vital part of the musical heritage of the UK and Europe.
The archive comprises over 270 manuscript scores together with the Society's working papers, minute books, correspondence etc. The manuscripts include the autograph score of Mendelssohn's First Symphony and a copyist's score of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (which was commissioned by the Society), annotated by the composer. The correspondence files include autograph letters from many composers, including Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Britten, Dvorák, Elgar, Debussy, Delius, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninov, Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Vaughan Williams.
An inventory of the music manuscripts in the Royal Philharmonic Society Archive is available on the British Library's Manuscripts Catalogue.
Ludwig van Beethoven's dedication of his Symphony no. 9, op. 125, to the Philharmonic Society © The British Library Board
About the appeal
The appeal was supported by Classic FM with Sir Colin Davis, Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and internationally renowned pianist Mitsuko Uchida as patrons. Grants and pledges from several trusts and foundations and many individual donors together with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) were secured and the British Library committed funds from its own resources. The gap was finally closed when the HLF generously agreed to make a supplementary grant of £150,000. The Royal Philharmonic Society will be using the funds raised to provide scholarships for young composers and performers and for a programme of musical education.
We are enormously grateful to all those who helped us with this important acquisition.
Sir Colin Davis, Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and patron of our appeal for this acquisition said: "The RPS Archive is a vital part of the musical heritage of the United Kingdom and Europe. It is essential that this resource is acquired by the British Library where it will be open to the public from all over the world. The Royal Philharmonic Society's long term plan of using the funds raised to provide scholarships for young composers and performers and for a programme of musical education will have far reaching implications for the development of musical accomplishment in this country."
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