The Royal College of Music is a conservatoire established by royal charter in 1882, located in South Kensington, London, UK. It offers training from the undergraduate to the doctoral level in all aspects of Western Art including performance, composition, conducting, music theory and history. The RCM also undertakes research, with particular strengths in performance practice and performance science. The college is one of the four conservatories of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and a member of Conservatoires UK. Its buildings are directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall on Prince Consort Road, next to Imperial College and among the museums and cultural centres of Albertopolis.
Located in the heart of London’s South Kensington the Royal College of Music is a world-leading music conservatoire with a prestigious history, contemporary outlook and inspiring location. The RCM trains gifted musicians from all over the world for international careers as performers, conductors, composers and other significant leadership roles within the arts.
The college was founded in 1883 to replace the short lived and unsuccessful National Training School for Music (NTSM). The school was the result of an earlier proposal by the Prince Consort to provide free musical training to winners of scholarships under a nationwide scheme. After many years’ delay it was established in 1876, with Arthur Sullivan as its principal. Conservatoires to train young students for a musical career had been set up in major European cities, but in London the long-established Royal Academy of Music had not supplied suitable training for professional musicians: in 1870 it was estimated that fewer than ten per cent of instrumentalists in London orchestras had studied at the academy.
With around 800 students from more than 60 countries studying at undergraduate, masters or doctoral level, the RCM is a community of talented and open-minded musicians. Since the RCM was founded in 1882, students leave to become the outstanding performers, conductors and composers of the future. RCM professors are leaders in their fields and further enhancing the inspiring offer to students, each year the RCM is proud to welcome renowned musicians such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Pinchas Zuckerman, Kiri te Kanawa and many others.
The RCM has trained some of the most important figures in British and international music life, including: Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, Leopold Stokowski, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Roger Norrington, Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Thomas Allen, Sarah Walker, Alfie Boe, Liz Watts, Sarah Connolly, Sophie Bevan, James Galway, John Lill, Julian Lloyd Webber and Natalie Clein.
The Royal College of Music Museum, forming part of the centre for performance history, houses a collection of more than 800 musical instruments and accessories from circa 1480 to the present. Included in the collection is a clavicytherium that is the world’s oldest surviving keyboard instrument. The museum’s displays include musical instruments, portraits, sculptures, photographs and engravings related to music. Admission is free.
Owing partly to the vision of its founders, particularly Grove, the RCM holds significant research collections of material dating from the fifteenth century onwards. These include autographs such as Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 64/1, Mozart’s Piano Concerto K491 and Elgar’s Cello Concerto. More extensive collections feature the music of Herbert Howells, Frank Bridge and Malcolm Arnold and film scores by Stanley Myers. Among more than 300 original portraits are John Cawse’s 1826 painting of Weber (the last of the composer), Haydn by Thomas Hardy (1791) and Bartolommeo Nazari’s painting of Farinelli at the height of his fame. A recent addition to the collection is a portrait of the Russian composer Alfred Schnittke by Reginald Gray.
10,000 prints and photographs constitute the most substantial archive of images of musicians in the UK. The RCM’s 600,000 concert programmes document concert life from 1730 to the present day.