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National Training School for Music

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1249 NTSM
Held at: Royal College of Music
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Full title: National Training School for Music
Date(s): 1873-1882
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 3 volumes
Name of creator(s): National Training School for Music


Administrative/Biographical history:

The original idea for a national music school based in London's South Kensington estate had been that of Albert, the Prince Consort. Shortly after the Prince's death, Henry Cole, the creator of the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition had decided to create a scheme for its establishment by the Society of Arts (of which he was Honorary Secretary) on land at South Kensington provided by the Commissioners. The National Training School for Music (NTSM) opened on 17 May 1876 after a three-year planning period, with Arthur Sullivan as its first Principal (he was succeeded in 1881 by John Stainer). It was instituted as a five-year experiment supported by public subscription after which it was hoped to transfer management and funding to the State. Initially Cole had hoped to remodel the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) into a national free musical school in the mould of European conservatoires but this attempt had failed and the NTSM was instituted separately. It had been established with the grand intention of providing 300 free scholarships but this quickly proved impossible and a compromise was reached to provide 100 free scholarships for five years. When it opened there were only 70 scholarships and by 1878 it appeared the limited funding provided by private founders and corporate bodies would not suffice to enable the continuation of the School without government assistance. The School would have to seek some sort of alliance with the RAM in taking fee-paying students.

The Prince of Wales summoned a meeting in July 1878 to promote the establishment of a Royal and National College of Music, whose students, admitted on merit by examination, would enjoy full or partial scholarships. It was proposed that the College should emerge from an amalgamation of the RAM and the NTSM. The RAM initially seemed favourable to the union, and undertook negotiations with the Sub-Committee, under Prince Christian, of the Executive Committee appointed to oversee the establishment of the College. However in the same month the RAM rescinded its approval of the amalgamation, as the Honorary Secretary of the committee established at the RAM to look into the merger stated that according to its charter the RAM could not amalgamate with any other body. The NTSM was left to continue under difficult and uncertain circumstances, and took its first fee-paying students in autumn 1881. The Prince of Wales convened a national meeting of dignitaries at St James's Palace in February 1882 to promote the creation of a public fund to establish the Royal College of Music, which would become the state supported successor to the NTSM.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the National Training School for Music, 1873-1882, comprising minutes of the Committee of Management, 1873-1882, including proposed charter of the School, concert programmes, accounts, and correspondence; register of scholars, 1876-1882 (indexed).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Minutes are arranged in two volumes: 1873-1880, and 1880-1882. The first volumes contains the School charter.

Conditions governing access:

Usual conditions of the Library of the Royal College of Music apply. See the RCM website or contact the RCM Library for details.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is permitted at the discretion of the Archivist for research purposes only.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

The RCM also holds an events book which includes entries relating to the NTSM; papers of Lord Henry Thring relating to the establishment of the RCM, 1877-1883.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Robert Baxter as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project. Sources: 'The National Training School for Music, 1873-1882. Catalyst or cul-de-sac?', G W E Brightwell (University of Durham MA Thesis, 1998).

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:
Mar 2001

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