royal albert hall

The Royal Albert Hall in London

The Royal Albert Hall in London  has a capacity of over 2000 people. Initially, it could accommodate over 9,000 people, but modern security measures have prevented any overcrowding. 

It was meant to be called the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but with the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, it was decided to dedicate it to him.

The idea for the Hall came from Prince Albert who had organized the Great Exhibition of 1851. He wanted to create a permanent temple for the sciences and the arts. The Royal Albert Hall was to be a part of what was nicknamed “Albertopolis” and which also includes the three great museums of South Kensington. 

 

royal albert hall

 

His initial design was to include space for lectures and conferences, libraries and exhibition space and would be funded from the profits from the Great Exhibition. The prince died in 1861 before the project began.

After the Prince’s death, the project was approved and Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1867 and the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington opened on March 29, 1871. When the scaffolding was removed, it was feared that the dome would not hold up, but as you can see still now everything was fine.

What no one had foreseen, however, was that the dome created an unpleasant echo and  until 1969 the music was heard twice. The echo was only discovered at the opening ceremony when the amen of the bishop of London for the blessing was clearly heard twice.

. It was said at the time that the price of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall was very affordable, since you had the opportunity to hear the music twice! In 1969 they placed the famous ‘mushrooms’ on the ceiling to improve the acoustics. Recently the room had a two million pound sonic refurbishment which transformed the sound.

The installation work was done at night and no concerts were canceled and everything was done practically in secret. It was a challenge given the number of cables and amplifiers to be placed in a building that was also protected. 

The structure of the building was inspired by the old amphitheaters. It is surrounded by a mosaic illustrating the triumphs of the arts and sciences. The organ built in 1871 was then the largest in the world. The Royal Albert Hall in Kensington was initially lit by gas lights, but in 1888 it had electric lights.

Since 1941 the Royal Albert Hall has hosted the orchestral part of The Proms every year which are eight weeks of classical and chamber music concerts. Chamber music concerts are held at Cadogan Hall.

Not everyone knows that the Proms were held at Queen’s Hall until May 10, 1941. But on that night for five hours, the Luftwaffe ferociously bombed London leaving 1,436 dead and 1,792 wounded. The House of Commons, the House of Lords, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, the Mint, the Mansion House, St James’s Palace and the Tower of London were all affected. The Queen’s Hall was completely destroyed. The Royal Albert Hall was the only concert hall in the capital not destroyed or damaged, this is how the Proms began.

While prominent classical musicians such as Wagner (as orchestra conductor during The Wagner Festival in 1877) or Rachmaninov have played at the Hall in the past, in recent years the Hall has hosted different types of shows. From a Eurovision competition final to ATP Champions Tour Masters tennis matches. Many of the great names of pop and rock music have played or sung here from Pink Floyd to Bob Dylan, from Janet Jackson to Kylie Minogue.

If you like anecdotes you should know that the Royal Albert Hall in London was the only place where The Beatles and The Rolling Stones played at the same concert.

In addition to concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, charity events, choir concerts, award ceremonies, graduation ceremonies for Imperial College students and much more are also held. Royal dances were also held for the coronation of various monarchs and boxing tournaments.

Until 1985 those who worked at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington were volunteers and were not paid, they were given free tickets instead.

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