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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4058
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1867-2000
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 6.99 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 including Committee minutes; correspondence; licenses and contracts; sponsorship arrangements; financial accounts; papers relating to legal cases; papers relating to concerts; papers relating to performances of 'Hiawatha'; papers of the Friends of the Society; photographs; sheet music; brochures, flyers, newspaper cuttings, posters, bulletins and newsletters; recordings of performances including records, reel to reel tapes, cassette tapes and videos; concert programmes; and branded merchandise.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

LMA/4058/A: Administration;
LMA/4058/B: Finance;
LMA/4058/C: Legal papers;
LMA/4058/D: Concert files;
LMA/4058/E: Hiawatha;
LMA/4058/F: Friends;
LMA/4058/G: Photographs;
LMA/4058/H: Music;
LMA/4058/I: Printed Material;
LMA/4058/J: Printing Blocks;
LMA/4058/K: Recordings;
LMA/4058/L: Programmes;
LMA/4058/M: Ephemera;
LMA/4058/N: Historical papers;
LMA/4058/O: Artifacts.

Conditions governing access:

These records are open to public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to closure periods.

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:

Deposited in May 1997, with a further deposit in May 1998.

Allied Materials

Related material:

A previous deposit of records from the society has been catalogued as ACC/2370.

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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