Hitting the high notes with London’s Philharmonic Orchestra


Founded in 1932, the London Philharmonic Orchestra has enjoyed almost a decade as part of the UK’s cultural landscape. At the hotel Grand Royale Hyde Park, we’re huge followers of the LPO, and as such, would like to spread the word about their history and work that continues to inspire others.


Early days

Sir Thomas Beecham conducted the newly formed London Philharmonic Orchestra on its first public appearance at the Queen’s Hall on 7th October 1932. Taking breaths away, the orchestra secured a number of profitable recording contracts during its early years, and even played at some of the most poignant engagements of the era, including the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the concerts of the Royal Philharmonic Society, which only helped raise the profile of the orchestra to the wider audience.

Sir Thomas Beecham’s death

After Sir Thomas died in 1961 the orchestra’s fortunes declined. Struggling to survive, its future looked bleak. That was until the mid-1960s when an Arts Council report recommended that it should receive public subsidy. Securing its future, the funding was a real turning point for the orchestra and is undeniably the reason it is still around today. However a further crisis arose around this time when it arose that the orchestra’s right to call itself “Royal” could be withdrawn.

Post public entity

The 1970s saw a widening awareness of the orchestra when it travelled to America to play for the first time. Starting a major tour of the country in April, the orchestra started in New York with a concert at Carnegie Hall which was conducted by Principal Conductor Bernard Haitink, before travelling around the US wowing crowds.

Its international recognition only widened the orchestra’s appeal, with more people than ever heading to see and hear them play. In its 40th anniversary season, the orchestra was invited to China to play. The first Western orchestra to visit the country, the trip attracted a lot of attention from all over the world.

During the same decade, in 1977, one of the great orchestra-conductor relationships began. Klaus Tennstedt, the world-famous German conductor, began working with the orchestra. Performing for the first time in a performance of Mahler’s First Symphony at Royal Festival Hall, the concert is often seen as one of the finest by the orchestra to date.

The new millennium

The new millennium signalled a change in perspective. Seeing the need to evolve and grow, the orchestra started to build upon its forays into the musical fusions it began in the late 1990s, and started appealing to a whole new audience. By 2005, it had launched its own record label with four titles conducted by legendary Principal Conductors, Klaus Tennstedt, Kurt Masur, and Bernard Haitink, and Principal Guest Conductor, Vladimir Jurowski. The orchestra’s label is now one of the most important in the industry.

By 2011, the orchestra was, quite rightly, selected to record the world’s national anthems for the London 2012 Olympics. Something of a dream come true for the orchestra, this was only superseded when it was asked to perform as part of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames.

Bringing even more attention to the orchestra with the world’s eyes on it, it then went on to win the prestigious ‘Ensemble’ award at the RPS Music Awards in 2014, and was the first UK orchestra to perform in Iceland’s new Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik later that same year.

Since then, the orchestra has continued to wow audiences all over the globe, touring and performing at celebrations and ceremonies in front of some of the most powerful people in the world.

Truly British, the orchestra is part of our heritage here at the Hotel Grand Royale Hyde Park. So next time you’re in London and staying with us, why not combine it with a LPO concert?