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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2370
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1871-1985
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 13.8 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Royal Choral Society x Royal Albert Hall Choral Society


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Royal Choral Society began its life as the Royal Albert Hall Choral Society, and was formed towards the end of 1871 with money provided for the purpose by Her Majesty's Commissioners for the 1851 exhibition. Charles Gounod conducted the society's first concerts, which began in May 1872, but was soon succeeded by Sir Joseph Barnby, who remained in office until 1896.

In 1888 Queen Victoria became patron of the society, allowing it to change its name to the Royal Choral Society. Successive conductors have included Sir Frederick Bridge, who directed the society for 25 years; Sir Malcolm Sargent, who remained in office until his death in 1967; Wyn Morris, who left amidst some controversy in 1970 and Meredith Davies, 1971-1985, followed by Laszlo Heltay and Richard Cooke. During the 1920's and 1930's the Royal Choral Society became famous for its performances of Coleridge-Taylor's 'Hiawatha', which was performed in the Royal Albert Hall with full costumes and often up to 1000 performers. The society is also well known for its Good Friday performances of Handel's Messiah and its extremely popular carol concerts. Highlights of the society's career include the British premier of Verdi's Requiem, which was conducted by the composer. It was the first choral society to make a gramophone recording and, under the baton of Sir Malcolm Sargent, became one of the first choirs to present choral works at the annual promenade concerts.

The Royal Choral Society is closely associated with the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children, which was launched in 1968 as a memorial to its most famous conductor. Charity concerts in aid of the fund began in the autumn of 1968 with a performance of Verdi's Requiem, conducted by Sir George Solti. A special Music Fund was formed during the choir's 1972/1973 season, to commission or help finance new choral works for the society, and to make financial contributions to the performances of other contemporary choral works.

For further information see


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Royal Choral Society. The archive is divided into seven sections: administrative records, including a series of individual concert files; financial records; membership records, which include attendance registers and audition files; concert records and programmes; publicity records including posters and newspaper cuttings; files of printed musical scores, arranged by piece, and including programmes for concerts featuring the work; miscellaneous records, which comprise information and programmes relating to other choirs, magazines of the society, or which include articles on the society or choral singing in general, and photographs of choir members, soloists and conductors.

Highlights of the collection include a comprehensive, although not complete, series of concert programmes from 1873-1985, including the programme for the last concert to be held in the Queen's Hall before its destruction during World War II. There are also manuscript copies of "Eryri" by Alun Hoddinott. This piece was composed for the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969 and the collection has a copy both of the original score, for 16 soloists, chorus and orchestra, and the revised version for baritone solo, chorus and orchestra.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

General ACC/2370/001-011;
Special music fund ACC/2370/012;
Concert files ACC/2370/013-046.

General ACC/2370/047-074;
Special music fund ACC/2370/075-078.

General ACC/2370/079-093;
Auditions ACC/2370/094-101;
Attendance registers ACC/2370/102-117;
Index and membership cards ACC/2370/118-125.

Record sheets ACC/2370/126-135;
Programmes ACC/2370/136-156.

Press and publicity:
Prospectuses ACC/2370/157-159;
Posters ACC/2370/160-171;
Newspaper cuttings ACC/2370/172-182.

Printed musical scores:
Carol concerts ACC/2370/183-194;
Other concerts ACC/2370/195-244.

Other choirs ACC/2370/245-248;
Magazines ACC/2370/249-254;
Photographs ACC/2370/255-258.

Conditions governing access:

Open except for some audition files, which are closed for public inspection for 65 years from the last date on the file.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in January 1987.

Allied Materials

Related material:

A subsequent deposit of records of the society has been catalogued as LMA/4058. The survival and whereabouts of minute books for the governing body of the society have yet to be established.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
June to August 2010.

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