from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 2004. In the background in front of the organ you can see the bust of Henry Wood .

The Proms are a traditional series of summer concerts in London . Every year between July and September there are daily classical music concerts , over 70 in total, mainly in the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington .

Concept and special features

The English abbreviation Proms stands for promenade series . The Proms actually have their roots in the traditional promenade concerts that have also been popular in London since the 18th century. However, they quickly developed into a unique music festival which, with the promenade concerts, has at most common features in terms of targeting a broad audience and individual events with popular pieces of music. The reference by name was also retained. At concerts in the Royal Albert Hall , in addition to the seats, there is also very inexpensive standing room (2018: six pounds per concert). The visitors who choose these places directly in front of the stage (in the arena ) or on the gallery are called promenaders or Prommers for short . Many of them have been attending the concerts for decades, some for more than 40 years. Some don't miss a single concert during a season. Each concert is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 .

The proms traditionally have no dress code. The concert-goers often come straight from work (or on days off from neighboring Kensington Gardens ) and are dressed accordingly: everything from business suits to casual clothing can be seen. Even shorts, T-shirts and tracksuits are part of the normal scene, especially among the standing spectators in the arena . Small picnics are even held on the arena floor during the break . At the Proms, attention is drawn to fine evening wear: it is mostly worn by tourists who are not familiar with the Proms rituals .

The Proms are outside the UK often mistaken with the famous Last Night of the Proms equated to the respective final concert of the season. This creates the misunderstanding that disguises, horns, flags and funny heckling can also be observed during the rest of the concert season. However, this is just as untrue as the assumption that the Proms program consists exclusively of easily accessible, popular works (“Schunkelklassik”). Instead, the Prommers are seen in the music world as an exceptionally quiet, disciplined, knowledgeable and open-minded audience. Many concerts at the Proms also consist of contemporary, experimental or little-known works of art music.


The first Proms concert took place on August 10, 1895 in the Queen's Hall on London's Langham Place. It was initiated by Robert Newman. The concert series arose from the idea of ​​addressing people who are normally not interested in classical concerts. You should be convinced to attend a concert with cheap ticket prices and a more informal atmosphere (eating, drinking and smoking were expressly allowed).

The conductor Sir Henry Wood is inextricably linked to the concerts . He was the musical director of the first concert and played a major role in expanding the repertoire of the later concerts. Since the 1920s, concerts have also included popular, less demanding works by contemporary composers such as Claude Debussy , Richard Strauss and Ralph Vaughan Williams . During the “Last Night of the Proms” Wood's bust , which is erected in front of the organ in the Royal Albert Hall, is adorned with bay leaves by representatives of the Promenaders .

In 1927 the BBC , which still produces radio programs near Queen's Hall in the Broadcasting House , took over the direction of the concerts. The first broadcast took place on August 13, 1927. The BBC Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1930 and has now played most of the concerts. At that time there were individual concerts that were exclusively dedicated to certain composers: For example, Richard Wagner on Monday , Ludwig van Beethoven on Friday and other important composers on other days. There were no concerts on Sundays.

With the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, the BBC withdrew from hosting the concert series. The proms continued with private support until the Queen's Hall burned down after an air raid in 1941 . A year later, the concerts moved to their current home, the Royal Albert Hall and the BBC took over the event again.

From the 1950s, more and more guest orchestras played at the Proms . In 1963 the first international star conductors (such as Leopold Stokowski , Georg Solti and Carlo Maria Giulini ) took over the direction, and in 1966 the first foreign ensemble played at the Proms with the Moscow Radio Orchestra . An internationally renowned top orchestra with well-known soloists and conductors can now be heard almost every day.

Another important conductor of the Promenade Concerts was Sir Malcolm Sargent . He directed it between 1948 and 1966 as chief conductor. A charity named after him holds a special promenade concert every year shortly after the end of the concert season.

Today's program of the Promenade Concerts includes traditional contemporary classical works as well as early music .

"Last Night of the Proms"

Made up, waving flags and enthusiastic - this is what typical “Last Night” visitors look like.

The legendary "Last Night of the Proms", the final concert, which is much better known outside of Great Britain than the actual concert season, takes place in a very relaxed atmosphere. In addition to popular classical music, a number of patriotic works will be performed in the second half of the concert . These include Hubert Parry's setting of William Blake's poem And did those feet in ancient time (The hymn is entitled Jerusalem , but Blake's poem has no title. It is part of his poetry Milton . Blake's poem Jerusalem has nothing to do with it the poem.), Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 ( Land of Hope and Glory ), and Rule, Britannia! . In the case of the pieces mentioned, it is a tradition that the audience sings along, sometimes waving Union Jack flags and wearing hats of this type. The “Last Nights of the Proms” combine carnival happiness with the solemnity of a classical concert.

The concert ends with the national anthem being sung, there are no encores; Auld Lang Syne is often singed by the audience alone . Often the choir joins in too.

At the request of the music director of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the American conductor Leonard Slatkin , who was in office until 2004 , the patriotic aspect of the “Last Night” was reduced. From 2002 to 2007, Rule Britannia was no longer played as a separate piece, but only as part of Henry Woods Fantasia on British Sea Songs , another traditional work of the "Last Night of the Proms". The decision to “defuse” the “Last Night” in this way was welcomed by some promenaders, while others criticized it as excessive political correctness . However, since 2008 the original version has been listed again.

In 2016, after the successful Brexit referendum, a group of EU supporters handed out numerous donated European flags to demonstrate "how music lovers value the EU". A sponsor of the “Brexit” campaign countered this perceived attack on the “bastion of British culture and identity” by purchasing additional Union Jacks worth £ 10,000.

On September 13, 2008, Sir Roger Norrington conducted the Last Night of the Proms for the first time . On September 7, 2013, Marin Alsop became the first female conductor to conduct Last Night.

The interest in the Last Night exceeds the capacities of the Royal Albert Hall many times over. Therefore it is very difficult to get tickets for this concert. Anyone who has attended at least five of the regular 'Proms' can take part in a raffle for last night tickets. So that tourists also have the opportunity to attend the final concert, there are special ticket contingents for tour operators. However, various television stations broadcast the Last Night, in Germany the NDR . The broadcast is also carried out in the ARD culture waves - up to and including 2015 with the exception of the Bavarian radio  - since 2009 as part of the ARD radio festival . Parts of the concerts that take place simultaneously in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland will also be shown.

"Proms in the Park"

In 1996, 28,000 people saw the first “Proms in the Park” festival in London's Hyde Park. At the end of the live concert there was broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall on a big screen.

Because the Royal Albert Hall could no longer cope with the crowd, the “Last Night” was supplemented in 1996 with the “Proms in the Park”. Since then, up to 40,000 people have been celebrating the musical event in Hyde Park at the same time as the classic performance in Albert Hall . The park festival has its own live program. Finally, the Albert Hall is switched on via the big screen, and the audience in the park joins the traditional patriotic works. In the same way, Northern Irish, Scots and Welsh people have been partying in parks in Belfast , Glasgow , Swansea and Manchester for several years .

The “Proms in the Park” also offer tourists an inexpensive opportunity to experience the typical atmosphere of a “last night”.

See also

Web links

Commons : Proms in the United Kingdom  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b First BBC Promenade Concert August 13, 1927 . ( Memento from October 10, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) In: The BBC Story. August. Without a date.
  2. Brexit and Proms , Gina Thomas, FAZ online, September 11, 2016
  3. ^ Fiona Maddocks: Marin Alsop, conductor of Last Night of the Proms, on sexism in classical music . In: The Guardian , September 6, 2013; Retrieved September 7, 2013.