The Proms

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This article is about the British concerts. For other uses, see Prom (disambiguation).
Outside the Royal Albert Hall during the BBC Proms season of 2008

The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Founded in 1895, each season currently consists of more than 70 concerts in the Albert Hall, a series of chamber concerts at Cadogan Hall, additional Proms in the Park events across the United Kingdom on the last night, and associated educational and children's events. In 2009 the total number of concerts reached 100 for the first time. In the context of classical music festivals, Jiří Bělohlávek has described the Proms as "the world's largest and most democratic musical festival".[1]

Prom is short for promenade concert, a term which originally referred to outdoor concerts in London's pleasure gardens, where the audience was free to stroll around while the orchestra was playing. In fact this tradition has been revived in parks and stately homes around the UK at promenade concerts such as the Battle Proms. In the context of the BBC Proms Promming now refers to the use of the standing areas inside the hall (the arena and gallery) for which ticket prices are much lower than for the reserved seating. Single-concert standing Promming tickets for either the Arena or Gallery can be bought only on the day of the concert, which can give rise to long queues for well-known artists or works. Proms concert-goers, particularly those who stand, are sometimes described as "Promenaders", but are most commonly referred to as "Prommers". Prommers can buy full-season tickets instead for guaranteed entry to every concert in the season (until 20 minutes before the concert is due to start), although not the assurance of a particular standing position. A number of Prommers are particularly keen in their attendance. In 1997, one programme in the BBC documentary series Modern Times covered this dedicated following of enthusiasts.

History[edit]

A Promenade Concert in the Royal Albert Hall, 2004. The bust of Sir Henry Wood can be seen in front of the organ.

Origins and Sir Henry Wood[edit]

Promenade concerts had existed in London's pleasure gardens since the mid 18th century, but on 10 August 1895 impresario Robert Newman arranged the first series of indoor promenade concerts, in the Queen's Hall in Langham Place.[2] Newman's idea was to encourage an audience for concert hall music who, though not normally attending classical concerts, would be attracted by the low ticket prices and more informal atmosphere. In addition to promenading; eating, drinking and smoking were all allowed. He stated his aim to Henry Wood in 1894[3] as follows:

I am going to run nightly concerts and train the public by easy stages. Popular at first, gradually raising the standard until I have created a public for classical and modern music.[4]

Dr George Cathcart, an otolaryngologist, gave financial backing to Newman for the series (called "Mr Robert Newman's Promenade Concerts") on condition that Henry Wood be employed as the sole conductor.[5][6] Wood, aged 26, seized this opportunity and built the "Queen's Hall Orchestra" as the ensemble specially devoted to performing the promenade concerts.[7] Dr. Cathcart also stipulated (contrary to Newman's preference) the adoption of French or Open Diapason concert pitch, necessitating the acquisition of an entirely new set of wind instruments for the orchestra, and the re-tuning of the Queen's Hall organ. This coincided with the adoption of this lower pitch by other leading orchestras and concert series.[8] Although the concerts gained a popular following and reputation, Newman went bankrupt in 1902, and the banker Edgar Speyer took over the expense of funding them. Wood received a knighthood in 1911. In 1914, anti-German feeling forced Speyer out of his post. After Speyer, music publishers Chappell & Co. took control of the concerts.[9]

Although Newman remained involved in artistic planning, it was Wood's name which became most closely associated with the Proms.[10] As conductor from the first concert (which opened with Wagner's Rienzi overture) in 1895, Sir Henry was largely responsible for building the repertoire heard as the series continued from year to year. While including many popular and less demanding works, in the first season there were substantial nights devoted to Beethoven or Schubert, and a programme of new works was given in the final week. Distinguished singers including Sims Reeves and Signor Foli appeared. In the first two decades Wood firmly established the policy of introducing works by contemporary composers (both British and international) and of bringing fresh life to unperformed or under-performed works.[11] A bronze bust of Sir Henry Wood recovered from the ruins of the bombed-out Queen's Hall in 1941, and now belonging to the Royal Academy of Music,[12] is still placed in front of the Organ for the whole Promenade season. Though the concerts are now called the BBC Proms, and are headlined with the BBC logo, the tickets are subtitled "BBC Music presents the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts".

In 1927, following Newman's sudden death in the previous year, the BBC – later based at Broadcasting House next to the hall – took over the running of the concerts. This arose because William Boosey, then managing director of Chappell & Co. (the Prom. proprietors), detested broadcasting and saw the BBC's far-reaching demands and intentions in the control of musical presentation as a danger to the future of public concerts altogether. He decided to disband the New Queen's Hall Orchestra, which played for the last time at a Symphony concert on 19 March 1927. He found it more expedient to let the Queen's Hall to the broadcasting powers, rather than to continue the Promenade concerts and other big series independently in an unequal competition with what was effectively the Government itself. So the Proms. were saved, but under a different kind of authority. The personnel of the New Queen's Hall Orchestra effectively continued until 1930 as 'Sir Henry J. Wood and his Symphony Orchestra.'[13] When the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC SO) was formed in 1930, it became the main orchestra for the concerts. At this time the season consisted of nights dedicated to particular composers; Mondays were Wagner, Fridays were Beethoven, with other major composers being featured on other days. There were no Sunday performances.

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the BBC withdrew its support. However private sponsors stepped in to maintain the Proms, always under Sir Henry Wood's direction, until the Queen's Hall was devastated beyond repair during an air raid in May 1941. (The site is now occupied by the St George's Hotel and BBC Henry Wood House). The Proms were therefore moved to their current home, the Royal Albert Hall, at which point the BBC resumed control. The London Symphony Orchestra had sometimes assisted in the series since (after 1927) the New Queen's Hall Orchestra had ceased to function, and in 1942 Sir Henry Wood also invited the London Philharmonic Orchestra under its new leader Jean Pougnet to participate in this and subsequent seasons.[14] In 1944, under increased danger from bombing, the Proms moved again, this time to the Bedford Corn Exchange (home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 1941) which hosted the concerts until the end of the War.

Post-war[edit]

Wood continued his work with the Proms until his death in 1944.[15] During the War Sir Adrian Boult and Basil Cameron also took on conducting duties for the Proms,[16] and after the War maintained them until the advent of Malcolm Sargent as Proms chief conductor in 1947. Sargent held this post until 1966; his associate conductor from 1949 to 1959 was John Hollingsworth. Sargent was noted for his immaculate appearance (evening dress, carnation) and his witty addresses where he good-naturedly chided the noisy Prommers. Sir Malcolm championed choral music and classical and British composers, especially Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The charity founded in his name, CLIC Sargent, continues to hold a special Promenade Concert each year shortly after the main season ends. CLIC Sargent, the Musicians' Benevolent Fund and further musical charities (chosen each year) also benefit from thousands of pounds in donations from Prommers after most concerts. When asking for donations, Prommers from the Arena regularly announce to the audience the running donations total at concert intervals through the season, or before the concert when there is no interval.

After Wood's death, Julian Herbage acted as de facto principal administrator of the Proms for a number of years, as a freelance employee after his retirement from the BBC, with assistance from such staff as Edward Clark and Kenneth Wright.[17] During the tenure of William Glock as Controller of the Proms, beginning in 1960, the Proms repertory expanded both forwards in time, to encompass then contemporary and avant-garde composers such as Boulez, Berio, Carter, Dallapiccola, Peter Maxwell Davies, Gerhard, Henze, Ligeti, Lutosławski, Lutyens, Maw, Messiaen, Nono, Stockhausen, and Tippett, as well as backwards to include music by past composers such as Purcell, Cavalli, Monteverdi, Byrd, Palestrina, Dufay, Dunstaple and Machaut, as well as less-often performed works of Johann Sebastian Bach and Joseph Haydn.[18] From the 1960s, the number of guest orchestras at the Proms also began to increase, with the first major international conductors (Leopold Stokowski, Georg Solti and Carlo Maria Giulini) performing in 1963, and the first foreign orchestra, the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, performing in 1966. Since that time, almost every major international orchestra, conductor and soloist has performed at the Proms. In 1970, Soft Machine's appearance led to press attention and comment as the first "pop" band to perform there.

Since 1990[edit]

The Proms continue today, and still present newly commissioned music alongside pieces more central to the repertoire and early music. Innovations continue, with pre-Prom talks, lunchtime chamber concerts, children's Proms, Proms in the Park either appearing, or being featured more heavily over the past few years. In the UK, all concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3, an increasing number are televised on BBC Four with some also shown on BBC One and BBC Two. The theme tune that used to be played at the beginning of each programme broadcast on television (until the 2011 season) was an extract from the end of the "Red" movement of Arthur Bliss's A Colour Symphony. It is also possible to hear the concerts live from the BBC Proms website. The Last Night is also broadcast in many countries around the world.

In 1996, a related series of eight lunchtime chamber concerts was started, taking place on Mondays during the Proms season. In their first year these were held in the Britten Hall of the Royal College of Music (just across Prince Consort Road from the Albert Hall). The following year they moved slightly further afield, to the Henry Cole Lecture Theatre at the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 2005 they moved further again, to the new Cadogan Hall, just off London's Sloane Square. These allow the Proms to include music which is not suitable for the vast spaces of the Albert Hall.

2004 season

From 1998 to 2007, the Blue Peter Prom, in partnership with long-running BBC television programme Blue Peter, was an annual fixture.[19] Aimed at children and families, the Prom is informal, including audience participation, jokes, and popular classics.[20] High demand for tickets – which are among the lowest priced in the season – saw this Prom be split in 2004 into two Proms with identical content.[21] In 2008, the Blue Peter Prom was replaced with a Doctor Who Prom which was repeated in both the 2010 and 2013 seasons.[22]

The 2004 season also featured the Hall's newly rebuilt pipe organ. It took two years to complete the task (2002–2004) and was the work of Noel Mander, Ltd., of London. It was the first complete restoration of the instrument since Harrison and Harrison's work in 1936.

The tradition of Promming remains an important aspect of the festival, with over 1000 standing places available for each concert, either in the central arena (rather like the groundlings in the pit at Shakespeare's Globe) or high in the hall's gallery. Promming tickets cost the same for all concerts (still only £5 in 2013), providing a considerably cheaper option for the more popular events. Since the tickets cannot be bought in advance (although there are full-season tickets, first weekend and weekly passes available), they provide a way of getting into otherwise sold-out concerts.[23][24]

In 2010, the Proms Archive was introduced on the BBC Proms webpage, to allow for a systematic searching of all works that have been performed and all artists who have appeared at The Proms since their inception. On 1 September 2011 a Prom given by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was severely affected by interruptions from pro-Palestinian protesters.[25] While the Palestine Solidarity Campaign had urged a boycott, they denied being behind the disruption inside the Royal Albert Hall. For the first time ever, the BBC took a Prom concert off the air.[26]

Proms seasons[edit]

The Proms 2005. Most people sit, while Promenaders stand in front of the orchestra. The Royal Albert Hall Organ is in the background.

2006 season[edit]

The 2006 season (the 112th) marked the 250th birthday celebrations of Mozart and the centenary of Shostakovich's birth. New initiatives included four Saturday matinee concerts at the Cadogan Hall and the chance for audience members to get involved with The Voice, a collaborative piece performed in two Proms on 29 July. On 3 September 2006, a concert was cancelled due to a fire.[27] The season saw the launch of a venture called the Proms Family Orchestra in which children and their extended families can make music with BBC musicians.[28]

2007 season[edit]

The 2007 season ran from 13 July–8 September 2007, with the first concert beginning with Walton's Portsmouth Point and included Elgar's Cello Concerto performed by Paul Watkins and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Following the previous year's Voice day, brass instruments were specially featured with two concerts on 28 July 2007. Early press coverage focused heavily on the fact that musical theatre star Michael Ball would be the central performer in a concert on 27 August and a concert of British film music on 14 July. This led to media accusations of "dumbing down", despite Nicholas Kenyon's defence of the programme.[29][30][31] Anniversaries marked in this Proms season included the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Edward Elgar, the 100th anniversary of the death of Edvard Grieg and the 50th anniversary of the death of Jean Sibelius as well as marking 80 years since the first BBC sponsorship of the Proms. The series also included an additional series of four Saturday matinee concerts at Cadogan Hall.

The 2007 season was Nicholas Kenyon's last season as controller of the BBC Proms, before he became managing director at the Barbican Centre from October 2007.[32] Roger Wright became controller of the Proms in October 2007, whilst retaining responsibility for BBC Radio 3 and taking up a broader role controlling the BBC's classical music output across all media.[33]

2008 season[edit]

The 2008 season ran from 18 July to 13 September 2008. The BBC released details of the season slightly earlier than usual, on 9 April 2008.[34] Composers whose anniversaries were marked include:

The celebration of Stockhausen was centred on two large-scale concerts on 2 August 2008, and complementing Vaughan Williams's interest in folk music, the first Sunday was given over to a celebration of various aspects of British folk, including free events in Kensington Gardens and the Albert Hall, and ending with the first-ever céilidh in the Albert Hall itself.[35]

Other changes included additional pre-Prom talks and events. For the first time, there was a related talk or event before every Prom, held in the Royal College of Music. The popular family-oriented Prom this year became the Doctor Who Prom, (in place of the Blue Peter Prom of recent years).[36] The Doctor Who Prom included a mini-episode of Doctor Who, "Music of the Spheres".

Just over a month before the announcement, Margaret Hodge, a Minister of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport suggested "that the Proms was one of several big cultural events that many people did not feel comfortable attending" and advocated an increase in multicultural works and an effort to broaden the audience. Her comments received wide criticism in the musical world and media as being a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the Proms, with Gordon Brown even distancing himself from her remarks.[37]

2009 season[edit]

In the 2009 season, which ran from 17 July to 12 September 2009, the total number of concerts reached 100 for the first time. The principal anniversary composers included:

Other composer anniversaries noted in the 2009 Proms included:

The humorist and music impresario Gerard Hoffnung was also remembered with the performance in the Last Night of Malcolm Arnold's A Grand Grand Overture, which was commissioned for the first Hoffnung Music Festival.[28] The 2009 Proms featured Bollywood music for the first time, as part of a day-long series of concerts and events also covering Indian classical music. Performers in the day included Ram Narayan, Rajan and Sajan Mishra, and Shaan.[38] Noted historical anniversaries covered in the 2009 Proms included the 75th anniversary of the MGM film musical, and the 10th year of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.[39][40][41] There was a child-oriented Prom to mark the Darwin bicentenary as well as a Free Family Prom including the Proms Family Orchestra.[28]

2010 season[edit]

The 2010 Proms season ran from 16 July to 11 September. The principal anniversary composers included:

Other anniversaries of composers featured at The Proms included:

In addition, Hubert Parry and Alexander Scriabin received particular focus.[42] One day was dedicated particularly to Sir Henry Wood, including a recreation of the 1910 Last Night.[43] For families, the Doctor Who Prom, first introduced in 2008, received new renditions hosted by the newest Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill).[44][45] The booking system was also revised with a new online system to allow ticket buyers to set up a personalised Proms plan in advance to speed up the booking process.[46]

2011 season[edit]

The 2011 Proms season began on 15 July 2011 and ran until 10 September 2011. The principal anniversary composers included:

Other anniversaries of composers featured at The Proms included:

The music of Frank Bridge also received a particular non-anniversary-related focus. Other notable performances included the first Proms performance of Havergal Brian's Symphony No. 1 ('The Gothic'), which was also the 6th live performance ever,[47] and subsequently released on a Hyperion commercial recording.[48] The 2011 Proms season also featured new works by Sally Beamish, Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, Pascal Dusapin, Graham Fitkin, Thomas Larcher, Kevin Volans, Judith Weir, and Stevie Wishart.

The 2011 Proms also featured the first ever 'Comedy Prom' hosted by comedian and pianist Tim Minchin, as well as the debut of the Spaghetti Western Orchestra.

The children's prom of 2011 was based on the CBBC television series 'Horrible Histories', and featured a number of songs from the show.

2012 season[edit]

2013 season[edit]

2014 season[edit]

The 2014 season had a number of pieces in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1, including the premier of the first violin concerto "1914" by Gabriel Prokofiev and "Requiem Fragments" by John Tavener. Also performed were "War Elegy" by Ivor Gurney, and Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem".

There were special proms for younger children (The Cbeebies prom), a staging of Kiss Me, Kate, and a concert inspired by the World War 1-era War Horse, featuring puppets from the play. The late night proms season included performances by the Pet Shop Boys and Paloma Faith.

Composers having special attention included Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (both celebrating their 80th birthdays in 2014), William Walton and Richard Strauss.

Last Night of the Proms[edit]

The Last Night of the Proms celebrates British tradition with patriotic music of the United Kingdom.[49][50]

Many people's perception of the Proms is taken from the Last Night, although this concert is very different from the others. It usually takes place on the second Saturday in September, and is broadcast in the UK on BBC Radio 3, and on BBC2 (first half) and BBC1 (second half). The concert is traditionally in a lighter, 'winding-down' vein, with popular classics being followed by a series of British patriotic pieces in the second half of the concert. This sequence traditionally includes Edward Elgar's "Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1" (to part of which "Land of Hope and Glory" is sung), and Henry Wood's "Fantasia on British Sea Songs", which culminates in Thomas Arne's "Rule, Britannia!". However, the "Fantasia" did not feature from 2008 to 2011,[citation needed] though "Rule, Britannia!" has retained its place in the programme in its own right. The full "Fantasia" re-appeared in 2012, but was again absent from the 2013 concert. The concert concludes with Hubert Parry's "Jerusalem" (a setting of a poem by William Blake), and the British national anthem. The repeat of the Elgar March at the Last Night can be traced to the spontaneous audience demand for a double encore at its premiere at a 1901 Proms concert.[51] The closing sequence of the second half became fully established in 1954 during Sargent's tenure as chief conductor of the Proms.[52] The Prommers have made a tradition of singing "Auld Lang Syne" after the end of the concert, but it is not included in the programme. However, when James Loughran, a Scot, conducted the Last Night concert in the late 1970s and early 1980s he included the piece as part of the programme. Since 2009, "You'll Never Walk Alone", for audience participation has been included annually[citation needed] – a contribution made by the current Proms director, Roger Wright.

Tickets are highly sought after. Promming tickets are the same price as for other concerts during the season, but tickets for seats are more expensive. To book a seat in advance, it is necessary to have bought tickets for at least five other Proms concerts in the season to have a chance of getting a Last Night ticket, and an advance booking must include those five concerts, plus an application for a Last Night ticket. Tickets can only be purchased in an equivalent (or lower) price band to that sold for the previous tickets. Once the advance booking period ends, there is no requirement to have booked for additional concerts, but the Last Night is generally sold out by this time, though returns may be available. For standing places, a full season pass automatically includes admission to the Last Night; day Prommers need to present five ticket stubs from concerts previously attended at the box office to qualify to purchase a standing Last Night ticket, either in the Arena or the Gallery. (Prior to 2009, the requirement was for six concerts in addition to the Last Night when purchasing a ticket in advance, though this has remained at five since then.)

In recent years, a quantity of Arena standing tickets for the Last Night have been available for purchase on the day itself, with no requirement for having attended any previous concerts. These are sold on a 'first-come first-served' basis to those who are prepared to queue on the day itself.[53] In the post-War period, with the growing popularity of the "Last Night", the only way to obtain tickets was through a postal ballot system where prospective buyers submitted an application well in advance, along with a stamped and addressed reply envelope. The lucky ones received their tickets by return. A ballot now exists annually for the chance for individuals to purchase a maximum of two tickets from a special allocation of 100 stalls seats for the Last Night.[53]

Prommers with tickets are likely to queue up much earlier than usual (many overnight, and in past years, some slept outside the hall for up to three weeks beforehand to guard their place in the queue – though this is no longer permitted) to ensure a good place to stand in the hall, the resulting camaraderie adds to the atmosphere. Fancy dress is an optional extra: from dinner jackets to patriotic T-shirts. Many use the occasion for an exuberant display of Britishness. Union Flags are carried and waved by the Prommers, especially during "Rule, Britannia!".

Flags, balloons and party poppers are all welcomed – though John Drummond famously discouraged this 'extraneous noise' during his tenure as Director of the Proms. Sir Henry Wood's bust is adorned with a laurel chaplet by representatives of the Promenaders, who often wipe an imaginary bead of sweat from his forehead or make some similar gentle visual joke. Since 2006, the cost of standing place tickets has remained at just £5.00. Many people consider these tickets to be the best ones due to the atmosphere of standing in the concert hall for up to 3 hours, albeit with a 20-minute interval.

Another tradition of the Last Night is that near the end of the concert the conductor makes a speech thanking the musicians and audiences, mentioning the main themes covered through the season, noting the cumulative donations collected by the Promenaders' Musical Charities over the season, and announcing the date of the First Night of the Proms for the following year. The tradition of the Last Night Speech dates from 1941, when Sir Henry Wood gave the first such speech at the close of that Proms season, the first at the Royal Albert Hall, where he thanked colleagues and sponsors. Wood gave another similar speech of thanks at the 1942 Last Night, and a pre-recorded version was aired to the audience at the 1943 Last Night. During his tenure as conductor of the Proms, Sir Malcolm Sargent established the tone of making the Last Night speeches more humorous in nature. Subsequent conductors at the Last Night have generally continued this tradition, although one exception was in 1997 when Sir Andrew Davis more seriously addressed the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, Mother Teresa, and Sir Georg Solti in his 1997 Last Night speech.[54]

The Royal Albert Hall could be filled many times over with people wishing to attend the Last Night. To accommodate these people, and to cater for those who are not near London, the Proms in the Park concerts were started in 1996. Initially there was only one, in Hyde Park, adjacent to the Hall. More locations have been added in recent years, and in 2005, Belfast, Glasgow, Swansea and Manchester hosted a Last Night Prom in the Park which was broadcast live from each venue. 2007 saw Manchester's prom being replaced by one in Middlesbrough. 2008 featured a reduction from 5 to 4 Proms in the Park, in Hyde Park, Belfast, Glasgow and Swansea. 2009 returned to a total of 5 Proms in the Park, in Hyde Park, Glasgow, Swansea, County Down and Salford. Each location has its own live concert, typically playing the countries' respective national anthems, before joining in a live big screen video link up with the Royal Albert Hall for the traditional finale.

Leonard Slatkin, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 2000–2004, expressed a desire to tone down the nationalism of the Last Night somewhat, and on the Last Night of the seasons from 2002 until 2007 "Rule Britannia" has only been heard as part of Henry Wood's '"Fantasia on British Sea Songs" (another piece traditional to the Last Night) rather than separately. Slatkin, an American and the first non-Commonwealth citizen to lead the Last Night, conducted his first Last Night in 2001, just days after the 9/11 attacks. The atmosphere was more restrained and less festive than normal, with a heavily revised programme where the finale of Beethoven's 9th Symphony replaced the "Sea Songs", and Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" was performed in tribute to the victims of the attacks.[55]

On the day of the 2005 Last Night, the hall management received word of a bomb threat, which led to a thorough search of the Albert Hall for 5 hours, but the concert took place with a modest time delay. This has led to increased security concerns, given the stature of the Last Night in British culture, which Jacqui Kelly of the Royal Albert Hall staff noted:

"That was quite a nerve-wracker—our biggest event, the one everybody knows the Albert Hall for, and we were in real danger of losing it. We're an iconic thing, up there in the public eye, so we have to expect that."[56]

2008 also contained some departures from the traditional programme. "Pomp and Circumstance March No 1" was moved to after the conductor's speech. In addition, most of Wood's "Fantasia on British Sea Songs" was replaced by Vaughan Williams's Sea Songs as a final tribute in his anniversary year. However, Wood's arrangements of naval bugle calls from the start of the "Fantasia" were retained, and Sargent's arrangement of "Rule Britannia" returned with Bryn Terfel as soloist. As on his 1994 Last Night appearance,[57] he sang one verse in a Welsh translation, with the chorus also translated into Welsh.

2009 saw the continued absence of Wood's Sea Songs, this time replaced by specially commissioned fanfares, and extracts from Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks".[58][59] In 2009, for the first time, the Last Night was shown live in several cinemas across Asia and in Canada and Australia.[60]

The 2014 Last Night saw the on-line auction of a Vivienne Westwood dress, worn by soprano Elizabeth Watts , in aid of Streetwise Opera.[61]

Last Night conductors[edit]

The following table lists by year the conductors of the Last Night of the Proms. Normally, the Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra leads this concert, but guest conductors have directed the Last Night on several occasions. In 2013, Marin Alsop was the first female conductor in its 118-year history.[62] The festival, which began on 12 July, included 75 concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and four across the UK.

Conductor Last Night(s) ...2
19th c.–1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
Sir Henry Wood 3 1895–1939, 1941–1943 2
Sir Adrian Boult 1945, 1946 1 7
Basil Cameron 1945 7
Constant Lambert
Sir Malcolm Sargent 1947–1966
Sir Colin Davis 4 1967–1969 1970–1972
Norman Del Mar 1973, 1975 19831
Sir Charles Groves 1974, 1976, 19781
James Loughran 1977, 1979 1981, 1982, 19841
Sir Charles Mackerras 19801
Vernon Handley 19851
Raymond Leppard 19861
Sir Mark Elder 1987 20061 5
Sir Andrew Davis 6 1988 1990–1992, 1994–20001
Sir John Pritchard 1989
Barry Wordsworth 19931
Leonard Slatkin 2001–2004
Paul Daniel 20051
Jiří Bělohlávek 2007 2010, 2012
Sir Roger Norrington 20081
David Robertson 20091 8
Edward Gardner 20111
Marin Alsop 20131
Sakari Oramo[63] 2014
  • ^1 Duties undertaken as Guest Conductor, rather than as resident Chief Conductor, BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • ^2 The seasons of 1940 and 1944 were curtailed by German bombing, so there was no official "Last Night", Wood died shortly before what should have been the end of the 1944 season
  • ^3 Sir Henry from 1911 onwards
  • ^4 Later Sir Colin
  • ^5 Later Sir Mark
  • ^6 Sir Andrew from 1994 onwards
  • ^7 Constant Lambert, Basil Cameron and Sir Adrian Boult jointly undertook proceedings upon the return in 1945
  • ^8 Robertson has been Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC SO since 2005

Proms seasons[edit]

No Season Start date (1st night) End date (Last night) Location No of Proms
1 1895 Saturday 10 August Saturday 5 October Queen's Hall, London 49
2 1896 Saturday 29 August Saturday 10 October Queen's Hall, London 37
3 1897 Saturday 28 August Saturday 9 October Queen's Hall, London 43
4 1898 Saturday 27 August Saturday 15 October Queen's Hall, London 43
5 1899 Saturday 26 August Saturday 21 October Queen's Hall, London 49
6 1900 Saturday 25 August Saturday 10 October Queen's Hall, London 67
7 Summer 1901 Saturday 24 August Saturday 9 October Queen's Hall, London 67
7a Winter 1901/02 Saturday 26 December Saturday 1 February Queen's Hall, London 33
8 1902 Saturday 23 August Saturday 8 November Queen's Hall, London 67
9 1903 Saturday 22 August Friday 23 October Queen's Hall, London 54
10 1904 Saturday 6 August Friday 21 October Queen's Hall, London 66
11 1905 Saturday 19 August Friday 27 October Queen's Hall, London 60
12 1906 Saturday 18 August Friday 26 October Queen's Hall, London 60
13 1907 Saturday 17 August Saturday 26 October Queen's Hall, London 61
14 1908 Saturday 15 August Saturday 24 October Queen's Hall, London 61
15 1909 Saturday 14 August Saturday 23 October Queen's Hall, London 61
16 1910 Saturday 13 August Saturday 22 October Queen's Hall, London 61
17 1911 Saturday 12 August Saturday 21 October Queen's Hall, London 61
18 1912 Saturday 17 August Saturday 26 October Queen's Hall, London 61
19 1913 Saturday 16 August Saturday 25 October Queen's Hall, London 61
20 1914 Saturday 15 August Saturday 24 October Queen's Hall, London 61
21 1915 Saturday 14 August Saturday 23 October Queen's Hall, London 61
22 1916 Saturday 26 August Saturday 21 October Queen's Hall, London 49
23 1917 Saturday 25 August Saturday 20 October Queen's Hall, London 49
24 1918 Saturday 11 August Saturday 19 October Queen's Hall, London 61
25 1919 Saturday 16 August Saturday 25 October Queen's Hall, London 61
26 1920 Saturday 14 August Saturday 23 October Queen's Hall, London 61
27 1921 Saturday 13 August Saturday 22 October Queen's Hall, London 61
28 1922 Saturday 12 August Saturday 21 October Queen's Hall, London 61
29 1923 Saturday 11 August Saturday 20 October Queen's Hall, London 61
30 1924 Saturday 9 August Saturday 18 October Queen's Hall, London 61
31 1925 Saturday 8 August Saturday 17 October Queen's Hall, London 61
32 1926 Saturday 14 August Saturday 16 October Queen's Hall, London 55
33 1927 Saturday 13 August Saturday 24 October Queen's Hall, London 37
34 1928 Saturday 11 August Saturday 6 October Queen's Hall, London 49
35 1929 Saturday 10 August Saturday 5 October Queen's Hall, London 49
36 1930 (Northern) Monday 26 May Saturday 21 June Free Trade Hall, Manchester
Philharmonic, Liverpool
Town Hall, Leeds
24
36a 1930 (London) Saturday 9 August Saturday 4 October Queen's Hall, London 49
37 1931 Saturday 8 August Saturday 3 October Queen's Hall, London 48
38 Summer 1932 Saturday 6 August Saturday 1 October Queen's Hall, London 49
38a Winter 1932/33 Saturday 31 December Saturday 14 February Queen's Hall, London 13
39 1933 Saturday 12 August Saturday 7 October Queen's Hall, London 49
40 Summer 1934 Saturday 11 August Saturday 6 October Queen's Hall, London 49
40a Winter 1934/35 Monday 31 December Saturday 12 January Queen's Hall, London 12
41 Summer 1935 Saturday 10 August Saturday 5 October Queen's Hall, London 49
41a Winter 1935/36 Monday 30 December Saturday 11 January Queen's Hall, London 12
42 1936 Saturday 8 August Saturday 3 October Queen's Hall, London 49
43 1937 Saturday 7 August Saturday 2 October Queen's Hall, London 49
44 1938 Saturday 6 August Saturday 1 October Queen's Hall, London 49
45 1939 Saturday 12 August Saturday 1 September[1] Queen's Hall, London 17.5[1]
46 1940 Saturday 10 August Saturday 7 September[2] Queen's Hall, London 25[2]
47 1941 Saturday 12 July Saturday 23 August Royal Albert Hall, London 37
48 1942 Saturday 27 June Saturday 22 August Royal Albert Hall, London 49
49 1943 Saturday 19 June Saturday 21 August Royal Albert Hall, London 55
50 1944 Saturday 10 June Thursday 29 June[3] Royal Albert Hall, London 17[3]
51 1945 Saturday 21 July Saturday 15 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
52 1946 Saturday 27 July Saturday 21 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
52a Winter 1947 Monday 6 January Saturday 18 January Royal Albert Hall, London 12
53 Summer 1947 Saturday 19 July Saturday 13 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
53a Winter 1948 Monday 5 January Saturday 17 January Royal Albert Hall, London 12
54 Summer 1948 Saturday 24 July Saturday 18 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
54a Winter 1949 Monday 10 January Saturday 22 January Royal Albert Hall, London 12
55 Summer 1949 Saturday 23 July Saturday September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
55a Winter 1950 Monday 9 January Saturday 21 January Royal Albert Hall, London 12
56 Summer 1950 Saturday 22 July Saturday 16 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
56a Winter 1951 Monday 8 January Saturday 20 January Royal Albert Hall, London 12
57 Summer 1951 Saturday 28 July Saturday 22 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
58 Winter 1952 Monday 7 January Saturday 19 January Royal Albert Hall, London 12
58a 1952 Saturday 26 July Saturday 20 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
59 1953 Saturday 25 July Saturday 19 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
60 1954 Saturday 24 July Saturday 18 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
61 1955 Saturday 23 July Saturday 17 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
62 1956 Saturday 21 July Saturday 15 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
63 1957 Saturday 20 July Saturday 14 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
64 1958 Saturday 26 July Saturday 20 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
65 1959 Saturday 25 July Saturday 19 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
66 1960 Saturday 23 July Saturday 17 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
67 1961 Saturday 22 July Saturday 16 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
68 1962 Saturday 21 July Saturday 15 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
69 1963 Saturday 20 July Saturday 14 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
70 1964 Saturday 25 July Saturday 19 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
71 1965 Saturday 17 July Saturday 11 September Royal Albert Hall, London 49
72 1966 Saturday 23 July Saturday 17 September Royal Albert Hall, London 50
73 1967 Saturday 22 July Saturday 16 September Royal Albert Hall, London 51
74 1968 Friday 19 July Saturday 14 September Royal Albert Hall, London 52
75 1969 Friday 18 July Saturday 13 September Royal Albert Hall, London 52
76 1970 Friday 17 July Saturday 12 September Royal Albert Hall, London 53
77 1971 Friday 23 July Saturday 18 September Royal Albert Hall, London 54
78 1972 Friday 21 July Saturday 16 September Royal Albert Hall, London 57
78a Winter 1972/73 Friday 29 December Friday 5 January Royal Albert Hall, London 8
79 1973 Friday 20 July Saturday 15 September Royal Albert Hall, London 55
80 1974 Friday 19 July Saturday 14 September Royal Albert Hall, London 55
81 1975 Friday 25 July Saturday 20 September Royal Albert Hall, London 57
82 1976 Friday 16 July Saturday 11 September Royal Albert Hall, London 56
83 1977 Friday 22 July Saturday 17 September Royal Albert Hall, London 55
84 1978 Friday 21 July Saturday 16 September Royal Albert Hall, London 55
85 1979 Friday 20 July Saturday 15 September Royal Albert Hall, London 54
86 1980 Friday 18 July Saturday 13 September Royal Albert Hall, London 57
87 1981 Friday 17 July Saturday 12 September Royal Albert Hall, London 56
88 1982 Friday 16 July Saturday 11 September Royal Albert Hall, London 57
89 1983 Friday 22 July Saturday 17 September Royal Albert Hall, London 57
90 1984 Friday 20 July Saturday 15 September Royal Albert Hall, London 59
91 1985 Friday 19 July Saturday 14 September Royal Albert Hall, London 60
92 1986 Friday 18 July Saturday 13 September Royal Albert Hall, London 60
93 1987 Friday 17 July Saturday 12 September Royal Albert Hall, London 66
94 1988 Friday 22 July Saturday 17 September Royal Albert Hall, London 69
95 1989 Friday 21 July Saturday 16 September Royal Albert Hall, London 68
96 1990 Friday 20 July Saturday 15 September Royal Albert Hall, London 66
97 1991 Friday 19 July Saturday 14 September Royal Albert Hall, London 67
98 1992 Friday 17 July Saturday 12 September Royal Albert Hall, London 66
99 1993 Friday 16 July Saturday 11 September Royal Albert Hall, London 67
100 1994 Friday 15 July Saturday 10 September Royal Albert Hall, London 68
101 1995 Friday 21 July Saturday 16 September Royal Albert Hall, London 70
102 1996 Friday 19 July Saturday 14 September Royal Albert Hall, London 72
103 1997 Friday 18 July Saturday 13 September Royal Albert Hall, London 73
104 1998 Friday 17 July Saturday 12 September Royal Albert Hall, London 73
105 1999 Friday 16 July Saturday 11 September Royal Albert Hall, London 72
106 2000 Friday 14 July Saturday 9 September Royal Albert Hall, London 72
107 2001 Friday 20 July Saturday 15 September Royal Albert Hall, London 73
108 2002 Friday 19 July Saturday 14 September Royal Albert Hall, London 73
109 2003 Friday 18 July Saturday 13 September Royal Albert Hall, London 73
110 2004 Friday 16 July Saturday 11 September Royal Albert Hall, London 74
111 2005 Friday 15 July Saturday 10 September Royal Albert Hall, London 74
112 2006 Friday 14 July Saturday 9 September Royal Albert Hall, London 73
113 2007 Friday 13 July Saturday 8 September Royal Albert Hall, London 72
114 2008 Friday 18 July Saturday 13 September Royal Albert Hall, London 76
115 2009 Friday 17 July Saturday 12 September Royal Albert Hall, London 76
116 2010 Friday 16 July Saturday 11 September Royal Albert Hall, London 76
117 2011 Friday 15 July Saturday 10 September Royal Albert Hall, London 74
118 2012 Friday 13 July Saturday 8 September Royal Albert Hall, London 76
119 2013 Friday 12 July Saturday 7 September Royal Albert Hall, London 75

[1] The second half of concert 18 and the remaining 31 concerts (19–49) of the 1940 season (Saturday 2 September to Saturday 7 October) were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II.

[2] Concerts 26–49 of the 1941 season (Saturday 8 September to Saturday 5 October) were cancelled due to intensified nightly air raids during World War II.

[3] Concerts 18–55 (Friday 30 June to Saturday 12 August) of the 1944 season were cancelled due to V-1 flying bombs ("Doodle Bugs") which had started to fall on London during World War II.

Proms Controllers[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jiří Bělohlávek, Speech from The Last Night of the Proms 2007, 8 September 2007.
  2. ^ According to Sir Henry Wood, Newman 'had had plenty of experience in running Promenade concerts at His Majesty's, so that he knew what he was about.' Henry J. Wood, My Life of Music (Victor Gollancz, London, First edition 1938, cheap edition 1946), 1946, p. 68.
  3. ^ Wood, 1946, p. 68.
  4. ^ Ivan Hewett (12 July 2007). "The Proms and the Promenerders". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 20 July 2008. 
  5. ^ Peter Mullen. "Everyone knows Henry Wood set up the Proms. But who remembers the man who hired him to do it?". The Independent (London). Retrieved 19 April 2009. 
  6. ^ John Smith. "Encore for the Proms". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 19 April 2009. 
  7. ^ Wood 1946, pp. 68-84.
  8. ^ Wood 1946, pp. 69-71, 73.
  9. ^ Jacobs, Arthur (2004). "Wood, Sir Henry Joseph (1869–1944)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/37001. Retrieved 10 January 2000. 
  10. ^ In a B.B.C. Interview recorded on 23 August 1941, introducing Sir Henry Wood, W.W. Thompson, the orchestral manager, remarked, 'There's only one man to speak for the Proms, for he is the Proms. That's Sir Henry Wood. Would you live them over again, Sir Henry?' (Henry Wood): 'Every day and every hour.' (Thompson): 'All those five thousand concerts?' (Henry Wood): 'Every one of them.' R. Elkin, Queen's Hall 1893-1941 (Rider & Co., London 1944), Transcript pp. 138-46, at p. 143.
  11. ^ For a list of Wood's principal 'novelties' from 1895 to 1937, see Wood 1946, pp. 353-372.
  12. ^ "Sir Henry Wood Collection.". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  13. ^ Elkin 1944, p. 33, quoting from W. Boosey, Fifty Years of Music (Ernest Benn Limited, London 1931), at pp. 177-78. The title 'Queen's Hall Orchestra' was briefly revived in 1935 and 1936 for some recordings and a series of Sunday Concerts.
  14. ^ Thomas Russell, Philharmonic Decade (Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., London, New York, Melbourne & Sydney [1944]), p. 112.
  15. ^ In 1944 an article in The Times commented, 'The Proms. as we know them are Sir Henry Wood's creation, and in their unbroken though slightly war-damaged career of 48 years they have depended on him through all vicissitudes of taste, finance, personnel, and management.' (quoted in) Elkin (1944), p. 37.
  16. ^ Russell ([1944]), p. 112.
  17. ^ Doctor, Jenny (2008). "The Parataxis of "British Musical Modernism"". The Musical Quarterly 91 (1–2): 89–115. doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdn031. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  18. ^ Bayan Northcott. "Small ripples in a calm sea: As the 100th season of Henry Wood Proms sails into port, Bayan Northcott wonders if the programming is running out of steam". The Independent (London). Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  19. ^ BBC Proms Guide 2007. BBC. 2007. ISBN 978-1-84607-256-7. 
  20. ^ Lasserson, David. "Blue Peter Proms". The Guardian (UK). 
  21. ^ BBC Press Office. "Blue Peter presenters perform at the Proms". Retrieved 1 September 2007. 
  22. ^ Fisher, Neil. "The Proms have been innovating ever since 1895". The Times (UK). Retrieved 1 January 2009. 
  23. ^ "What is promming?". BBC. 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  24. ^ "How to book/buy tickets". BBC. 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  25. ^ Andrew Hough and Andy Bloxham "Proms: Palestinian protest at Royal Albert Hall forces BBC to abandon live broadcast", The Daily Telegraph, 2 September 2011
  26. ^ Marcus Dysch "Anti-Israel protesters disrupt BBC Proms", The Jewish Chronicle, 2 September 2011
  27. ^ "Proms resume after fire at venue". BBC News Online. Retrieved 11 April 2007. 
  28. ^ a b c BBC Proms Guide 2009. BBC. 2009. ISBN 978-1-84607-788-3. 
  29. ^ Alberge, Dalya. "BBC Proms to feature West End show tunes". The Times (London). ISSN 0140 0460. Retrieved 26 April 2007. 
  30. ^ Akbar, Arifa. "BBC denies dumbing down as Michael Ball signs up for Proms". The Independent (UK: Independent News & Media). ISSN 002708. Retrieved 26 April 2007. gua
  31. ^ "Dam Busters fly in for British film score night at the Proms". Evening Standard (London: Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 26 April 2007. 
  32. ^ Higgins, Charlotte. "Proms chief takes over at Barbican". The Guardian (UK: Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 11 April 2007. 
  33. ^ "Radio 3 Controller to run the BBC Proms". BBC press release CF2/VB (BBC Online). Retrieved 26 April 2007. 
  34. ^ "BBC Proms homepage". BBC Proms website. BBC. 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2008. 
  35. ^ Jessica Duchen. "BBC Proms: Everything you wanted to know (but were afraid to ask)". The Independent (London). Retrieved 20 July 2008. 
  36. ^ Ciar Byrne. "Doctor Who makes his debut at the Proms". The Independent (London). Retrieved 20 July 2008. 
  37. ^ Philip Webster. "Margaret Hodge in hot water after Proms attack". The Times (London). Retrieved 5 March 2008. 
  38. ^ "Britain's Proms go Bollywood". Google News. Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on 9 April 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  39. ^ Hoyle, Ben. "Goldie features in 2009 Proms programme". The Times (UK). Retrieved 8 April 2009. 
  40. ^ Fisher, Neil. "The verdict on the 2009 Proms programme". The Times (UK). Retrieved 8 April 2009. 
  41. ^ Higgins, Charlotte. "Bollywood comes to the Proms—Sounds of India and music for vacuum cleaners both feature in the Proms' bold 114th season". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 8 April 2009. 
  42. ^ "BBC Proms 2010: Parry and Scriabin spotlights". BBC. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  43. ^ "BBC Proms 2010: celebrating Henry Wood". BBC. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  44. ^ "Saturday 24 July 2010". BBC. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  45. ^ "Sunday 25 July 2010". BBC. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  46. ^ Higgins, Charlotte. "The 2010 BBC Proms unveiled". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  47. ^ Andrew Clements. "Prom 4: Gothic Symphony – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  48. ^ Fiona Maddocks. "Havergal Brian: Symphony No 1 ('The Gothic') – review". The Observer. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  49. ^ "The Last Night". BBC Proms website. BBC. 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2008. 
  50. ^ Hamilton, James (2008). "Last Night of the Proms brought to a rousing finale with patriotic splendour". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 22 October 2008. 
  51. ^ Colin Matthews. "The evolution of the Proms". The Times Literary Supplement (London). Retrieved 20 July 2008. 
  52. ^ Cannadine, David (May 2008). "The 'Last Night of the Proms' in historical perspective". Historical Research 81 (212): 315–349. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.2008.00466.x. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  53. ^ a b "How to Book / Last Night Booking". BBC. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  54. ^ Robert Cowan/Edward Seckerson. "Last Saturday saw the Last Night of the Proms and the first night of the Royal Opera's exile at the Barbican. Robert Cowan and Edward Seckerson were at the respective venues...". The Independent (London). Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  55. ^ Andrew Clements. "Prom 72/ Last Night of the Proms". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 November 2008. 
  56. ^ Michael Church (28 August 2006). "How to put on a Prom". The Independent (London). Retrieved 20 July 2008. 
  57. ^ Teldec 4509-97868-2 CD, "Last Night of the Proms (The 100th Season)", 1994.
  58. ^ "Prom 76: Last Night of the Proms". BBC. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  59. ^ Roger Wright. "About the Proms / Questions to Roger Wright—Last Night of the Proms & Sea Shanties". BBC. 
  60. ^ "Last Night of the Proms to go live at cinemas worldwide". The Guardian (London). Press Association. Retrieved 14 August 2009. 
  61. ^ "Vivienne Westwood couture gown auction - Streetwise Opera". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  62. ^ ""BBC Proms appoints first female director for Last Night"". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  63. ^ "Proms 76: Last Night of the Proms". BBC. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 

External links[edit]