History of the RCM

The Royal College of Music (RCM) is one of the world’s great conservatoires, training gifted musicians from all over the world for international careers as performers, conductors and composers.

Founded in 1882 by the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), the RCM has trained some of the most important figures in British and international music life, including composers such as Holst, Vaughan Williams and Britten; conductors such as Leopold Stokowski, Sir Colin Davis and Sir Roger Norrington; singers such as Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Thomas Allen and Alfie Boe; instrumentalists such as James Galway, John Lill and Natalie Clein.

With 750 students from more than 60 countries studying at undergraduate, masters or doctoral level, the RCM of the 21st century is a vibrant community of talented and open-minded musicians. RCM professors are musicians with worldwide reputations, accustomed to working with the most talented students of each generation to unlock their artistic potential.

Regular visitors include the likes of Lang Lang, Dame Kiri te Kanawa and Bernard Haitink. The RCM’s many performing groups – including five orchestras, two jazz bands and the RCM International Opera School – are celebrated for the vitality and excellence of their performances, and are regularly invited to perform at significant venues both in the UK and overseas.

The RCM’s buildings, facilities and location are the envy of the world. The RCM is situated directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall in the cultural heart of London, one of the world’s great musical cities. Our iconic building, our concert hall, opera theatre, state-of-the-art studios, library and museum all provide inspiration for RCM students.