Centre for Performance History LogoHeading: Concert Programmes, 1790-1914
RCM Logo
Sub-heading: Case Studies by William Weber

Using these pages

This site is designed primarily as a teaching resource for use by undergraduates and postgraduates working on aspects of performance history, reception history and the social and economic history of music.

It currently consists of three main modules From the Benefit Concert to the Recital, 1800–1914, From Promenade to the Ballad Concert to the Music Hall and The Symphony – which may be accessed from any page in the site by clicking on the appropriate link to the left of the main text area. Once you have moved to one of the modules further links to topics within the module will be displayed. The links at the foot of each page enable you to navigate within the module concerned.

History of the Project

In 2002, through an award from the Leverhulme Trust, the Royal College of Music appointed Professor William Weber Leverhulme Visiting Professor. In his many publications Professor Weber has explored the complex history of concert life and the formation of musical canon in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and during his research he has examined an enormous range of primary source materials.

During his six months at the RCM, Professor Weber ran a research seminar on the history of concert programmes, contributed to undergraduate and post-graduate teaching at the College, and gave papers and other presentation at a number of other institutions and scholarly meetings in the UK. He also undertook further research in various collections, particularly the Centre for Performance History, Royal College of Music, and the John Johnson Collection, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. At Professor Weber's suggestion an informal research group was formed within the College to create this web site to provide a permanent and expanding teaching resource for use within the RCM that could also be made available on the web. This site is the result of that initiative.


Concert Programmes are notoriously difficult to locate. Often classed as ephemera, their value as sources of musical, social and economic history have only been more fully appreciated in recent years. In the absence of any agreed national or international cataloguing standards for these items, they are often either not catalogued at all, or catalogued inconsistently.

In 2002 the Music Libraries Trust commissioned a scoping study to assess the extent of UK holdings, and how the task of facilitating access to these collections might be achieved. The resulting study by Dr Rupert Ridgewell of the British Library, Concert Programmes in the UK and Ireland (London: IAML UK & Ireland/Music Libraries Trust, 2003) forms the basis of the collaborative project, the Concert Programmes Project,  between Cardiff University and the Royal College of Music, funded under the AHRB Resource Enhancement Scheme, to provide an online union catalogue by the end of 2007.


The selection, collection and transcription of programmes and the main text is the work of Professor Weber, to whom we are most grateful. The site was designed and created by Dr Paul Banks, with advice, input and assistance from the other members of the informal RCM research group: Oliver Davies, Dr Peter Horton, Andrew McCrea, Roderick Swanston, and Catherine Whalley.

Some of the programmes appear as scanned images, and our thanks are due to the John Johnson Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford and the Department of Portraits and Performance History, Royal College of Music, London for kind permission to include these reproductions in the site.

Our thanks are also due to Professor Simon McVeigh for making available information about programmes collected by him.


© Copyright 2004-5, Royal College of Music
Page last updated: 30 March 2005