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Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall: Two of London’s Iconic Classical Music Venues

  • November 25, 2023
  • 3 min read
Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall: Two of London’s Iconic Classical Music Venues

Sydney has its Opera House and New York has Carnegie Hall. Here in London we are blessed with both the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall. All of these venues are known the world over and have played an important role in shaping their city’s musical and cultural heritage. Of course all of these cities have so much more

The Royal Albert Hall is one of the capital’s most iconic venues. It was originally built to fulfil Prince Albert’s vision for a venue that promotes an understanding and appreciation of the arts and sciences. It would stand in the heart of the South Kensington estate that was to be developed with the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Following Prince Albert’s death in 1861, plans were put on hold before they were revived by his collaborator on the Great Exhibition, Henry Cole. Its design was inspired by the ruined Roman Amphitheatres that Cole visited. Work would begin in April 1867 and it was opened on the 29th March, 1871, and was now renamed to the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences in Prince Albert’s memory. When Queen Victoria opened the hall, she was so overcome with emotion that the Prince of Wales spoke on her behalf, with the Queen’s only recorded comment being that it reminded her of the British constitution. It has gone on to become an institution, hosting The Beatles and Bjorn Borg, Emmeline Pankhurst and Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein and Muhammad Ali, Sir Winston Churchill, the Rolling Stones, and so many more.

Image: Raph_PH

Moving south to Sloane Terrace we find Cadogan Hall. Initially opened as a Christian Science Church in 1907, it was purchased by Cadogan Estate in 2000 to safeguard its future. Through a connection with Opera Holland Park, Cadogan learned that the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was looking to find a permanent base in London. This presented an excellent opportunity for the Orchestra to benefit from Cadogan’s aim to bring the former church back to “useful life in a manner befitting its character and civic presence.”

In June 2004, it finally reopened as a concert hall. There was already a ready-made auditorium, a stage, and a gallery. However “unfortunately modern expectations of comfort and facilities, let alone the requirements of building and licensing regulations, meant extensive and fundamental changes had to be made” to the listed building. Despite its scale, Cadogan Hall remains a surprisingly intimate venue where the audience experiences a real feeling of being a part of the performances.

Between them, the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall have gone on to become two of the capital’s most iconic venues. Click the links below for more information on performances in either:

Albert Hall

Cadogan Hall

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Fahad Redha

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