Hope and Glory – The Proud Story of the Proms
Every summer, life in London is enhanced by two months of joyful music making at the BBC Promenade Concerts. Founded in 1895 by Sir Henry Wood and Robert Newman, the Proms rapidly became a popular way for enthusiasts of all ages to hear a wide range of the world’s greatest music – although it is traditionally the young who specially take the Proms to their hearts. The atmosphere is relaxed and the audience invariably good humoured!
Over the years most of the world’s top musicians have taken part in this enduring Festival – in the early days of the century at the Queen’s Hall in London’s West End and later at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. Proms audiences are the most enthusiastic anywhere and the concerts, which are broadcast nightly by the BBC, are heard in many countries overseas.
Since Wood’s time celebrated conductors such as Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis have led the BBC Symphony Orchestra and in recent years many singers and players from further afield – including New York, Vienna, Moscow and Amsterdam – have taken part. Yehudi Menuhin, Janet Baker, Clifford Curzon, Cecilia Bartoli, Mstislav Rostropovich are just a few of the great names to have participated over the years. In recent times jazz and musicals have taken their place among the more familiar classical concerts heard at the Proms – the range of exciting music widens every season.
Hear on record some of the superb musicians who have graced these concerts over the years and enjoy excerpts from a traditional Last Night in my talk Hope and Glory – The Proud Story of the Proms.
Facts about the Proms
- The first Prom concert in 1895 featured 25 separate musical items.
- Sir Henry Wood conducted 50 consecutive seasons of the Proms.
- In 1944 some Proms were broadcast from Bedford because of the bombing in London.
- Jacqueline du Pré made her Proms debut at the age of 18 in 1963.
- In 1974 a member of the audience took over from baritone Thomas Allen who was taken ill during a performance.
- The Royal Albert Hall can accommodate over 5,000 people – but many millions hear and see the concerts on BBC radio and TV.