Founded in 1895 by Sir Henry Wood, the Proms (officially the Henry Wood Promenade Cencerts) concerts at the Royal Albert Hall take over London's classical musical calendar every summer and, with some justification, can claim to be the greatest classical music festival in the world.
Over eight weeks, the Royal Albert Hall - one of the capital's most majestic venues - resounds to the sound of over 70 great concerts, covering a vast range, including semi-staged operas, early and contemporary music, chamber orchestras, choral concerts and world music, all amidst a staple diet of symphony orchestra concerts. Also well established are the Monday lunchtime proms at Cadogan Hall. A visit to London in the summer months without attending a Prom is a visit wasted.
Experienced by 6000 people each night, the concerts often sell out, but Proms tickets - the cheapest, at just £5 - are only available on the night. If you're prepared to queue early enough, you're guaranteed to get in. In 1895 people really did walk around while the musicians played (hence "promenade"). Now "prommers" in the Arena (in front of the orchestra) and in the Gallery (in the Gods) stand listening quietly.
The BBC took over the running of the season in 1927 and the concerts moved to the Royal Albert Hall after the destruction of the Queen's Hall in the Blitz. Once the sole domain of British orchestras, since the mid-1960s the world's greatest soloists and ensembles have also played the Proms. The attentive, quiet and appreciative Proms audiences are claimed, by one and all, to be unique.
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