Royal College of Music

The Royal College of Music is a well known conservatoire located in the South Kensington district of London, England, and one of the leading music institutions in the world. Since its founding, a number of professors and alumni of the RCM have played significant roles in shaping the history and development of Western classical music in the 20th and 21st centuries.


The Royal College of Music's building, designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield, is situated on Prince Consort Road in the district of South Kensington, next to Imperial College, directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall, near the Royal College of Art and five minutes' walk from the Science, Natural History and Victoria and Albert Museums. The dense presence of these cultural institutions has earned this Kensington neighborhood the nickname of Albertopolis.

A dormitory residence serving 170 students was opened in 1994 on Goldhawk Road in Shepherd's Bush, West London.

Since its founding in 1882 by the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, the College has been linked with the Royal family. Its patron is currently Her Majesty, The Queen. For 40 years, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was President; in 1993 HRH The Prince of Wales became President, Her Majesty The Queen Mother becoming President Emerita.

The current director is the clarinettist and scholar Professor Colin Lawson..


The college teaches all aspects of Western classical music from undergraduate to doctoral level. There is a Junior Department, where 300 children aged 8 to 18 are educated on Saturdays, under the scrutiny of Director; Peter Hewitt BA PGCE HonRCM FRSA. It also has an extensive museum of musical instruments which is open to the public, see below.

Museum of Instruments

The College's Museum of Instruments, forming part of the Centre for Performance History, houses a collection of over 800 instruments and accessories from circa 1480 to the present. Included in the collection is the world's oldest surviving keyboard instrument.

Other collections

Due partly to the vision of its founders, particularly Sir George Grove, the RCM holds significant research collections of material dating from the fifteenth century onwards. These include autographs such as Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 64/1, Mozart’s Piano Concerto K491 and Elgar’s Cello Concerto. More extensive collections feature the music of Herbert Howells and Frank Bridge and film scores by Malcolm Arnold and Stanley Myers. Amongst over 300 original portraits are John Cawse’s 1826 painting of Weber (the last of the composer), Haydn by Thomas Hardy (1791) and Bartolommeo Nazari's painting of Farinelli at the height of his fame.

10,000 prints and photographs comprise the most substantial archive of images of musicians in the UK. The RCM’s 600,000 concert programmes document concert life from 1730 to the present day. Paintings on display at the Museum include two portraits of Jan Ladislav Dussek and George Henschel.

Notable alumni

Famous students of the RCM have included:


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