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HomeSearchGetRecordLondon: Churches: Westminster Abbey (1784-2004)

Collection Description

Collection Title
London: Churches: Westminster Abbey (1784-2004)
A collection of two boxes of programmes from Westminster Abbey, from 1784 to 2004. The collection includes programmes from the Church House, Westminster.

Eighteenth Century:
Programmes and wordbooks for five performances given during the first four Handel Commemoration Festivals, organized by the Royal Society of Musicians and given at Westminster Abbey between 1784 and 1787, conducted by Joah Bates.

26 May 1784 (first performance): with a list of Patrons, Directors and Assistant Directors, instrumental and choral ensembles.

2 and 6 June 1785: single document with programmes for the first and second performances, including a list of the Directors.

3 June 1786 (second performance): with a list of Directors and Assistant Directors, and Subscribers to the Royal Society of Musicians.

28 May 1787: two separate programmes for the first performance, the first including lists of the Directors and of the Principal Vocal and Instrumental Performers and the second carrying lists of the Directors and Assistant Directors and of the Subscribers to the Royal Society of Musicians.

Nineteenth Century:
There are three programmes from the Royal Musical Festival, held in 1834. The programmes are from the following concerts of vocal music: one programme from a performance of The Messiah (Handel); one programme from a performance of The Creation (Haydn) and an anthem by Handel; one programme from a concert of solo arias and choral pieces. There is also a copy of a publication in celebration of the festival - “Drawn up from official documents by John Parry” – published in 1834. The publication has gilt edges and raised engravings of the royal patrons. There is a programme from a “Special Sunday Service” (1881) and a programme from a concert of hymns and anthems (1899 – given as part of a service).

Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries:
The collection contains a number of programmes from services, including a number of programmes from memorial services to recently deceased composers, performers, music managers and patrons. These include service sheets from services held for Charles Villiers Stanford (1924), Thomas Beecham (1961), John Christie (1962), Malcolm Sargent (1967), Benjamin Britten (1977 – he died 1976), William Walton (1983), Peter Pears (1986), Leon Goossens (1988); Eva Turner (1991 – she died 1990). In addition a number of these programme contain loose press cuttings and tickets for the event. There are programmes, tickets and press cuttings for the funeral and memorial service for Ralph Vaughan-Williams (1958). There are programmes for services held to unveil memorial stones: these include services held for Adrian Boult (1983) and Benjamin Britten (1978).

There are programmes from services to commemorate the birthdays of both individuals and institutions. For instance, there is a programme for the 80th birthday of William Walton (1980). There are programmes from services held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Music (1972) and the 100th anniversary of the Royal College of Music (1980).

Royal events are represented in the collection. There is a service sheet for a commemoration service to George V (1936) as well as a service sheet from the marriage of Princess Margaret (1960). In addition, there are a number of items from the coronations of George VI (1937) and Elizabeth II (1953). The material from the coronation of George VI includes a service booklet, a music list, an orchestra list and the “official souvenir programme”; material from the coronation of Elizabeth II includes two copies of “Approved Souvenir Programme”.

The collection includes a number of programmes from performances by the Bach Choir. These include a number of performances from 1914 to 1918 of choral works, which were part of liturgical services. The majority of programmes include analytical notes and musical examples. There are also a number of programmes from carol concerts given by the choir.

There are numerous concert programmes in the collection: these are largely from organ recitals and concerts of choral works. A number of these are from concerts given by the Westminster Abbey Choir, Westminster Abbey Special Choir, as well as some concert performances by the Bach Choir. The collection includes a programme from the War Requiem (Britten), in December 1962; though the soloists are largely the same as the Coventry premiere earlier that year, the orchestra, choir and conductor are different.

There are a few programmes from other events, including a poetry reading in the Henry VII Chapel and a performance of a twelfth-century musical play.

A number of festivals and commemorations are represented by the collection. These include a service for the start of the 900th year of Westminster Abbey, at the end of December, 1965. There are programmes from the celebrations during 1966 – entitled “Homage to Music”. There is a leaflet and evensong programme from the Festival of the National Federation of Cathedral Old Choristers’ Association. There are leaflets from the Westminster Organ Festival (1990) and Festival of Saint Cecilia (1992 and 1998). There are also leaflets concerning Handel celebrations in 1984 and 1985.

The programmes are arranged chronologically.
Date range of collection
1784 - 2004
Accumulation Dates
Suggested Audience
Not Specific
This collection is about

Location Details

Royal College Of Music, Library
London SW7 2BS
Open Map
020 7591 4723
Visiting Information
Mon-Fri by appointment
Building Information
The CPH collections now form part of the RCM Library. The majority of the concert programme collections are stored off-site so you need to request items before arriving. Requests for programmes are processed on Thursday for delivery to the library the following week. The Library itself is open Monday to Friday during term times and Tuesday to Friday during vacations. We can advise you about our hours when you contact us.
Display Overview
NEW CONTACT DETAILS: 020 7591 4723; [email protected]
For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

Additional Collection Information

Accrual Status
Related Publications
Management Information (Type)
Collection Owner(s)
Collection Creator(s)
Collection Collector(s)
Collection Custodians(s)
Associated Collection(s)
Cardif University (Prifysgol Caerdydd)Royal College of Music LondonMuseums, Libraries and Archives Council