The Proms began in 1895 as the brainchild of impresario Robert Newman and conductor Henry Wood. “Democratising the message of music” was, in Wood’s words, the aim of this cheap summer season of orchestral concerts. When the festival was threatened by financial catastrophe in 1927, it was one of the great enlightened acts of the young BBC to take it on and subsume it into its own work.
The annual arrival of the Proms programme, which was published last week, continues to mark a particular moment in the British cultural calendar. “Your guide to the world’s greatest classical music festival … UK bestseller”, proclaims the cover. For once, such arrogance is justified. The BBC Proms are excellent and open to all-comers. Each night, 1,350 standing tickets are available at the Royal Albert Hall – for great artists from Sir Simon Rattle to Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla – for £6 each. All the concerts are broadcast on Radio 3…
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