The Royal Albert Hall is known to almost every concert-goer in the world. Those who are familiar with it, like Tunde Folawiyo, might know that it was built in accordance with the wishes of Prince Albert, who had spent much of his life hoping to establish a space which would be used solely for creative events. Opened to the public in 1871, it quickly became one of the most famous auditoriums in the world.
However, as it was originally designed for events relating to the arts and sciences, rather than specifically for concerts, the acoustics in the Hall were surprisingly poor for many years. Only in 1969 did the committee decide to have renovation work carried out to resolve this problem. Further repairs were made between 1996 and 2004, using a grant worth £20 million, which was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The original design of the Hall was the work of two civil engineers, named Henry Y.D Scott, and Francis Fowke, whilst the construction was undertaken by Lucas Brothers. The exterior’s appearance was inspired by the architectural style favoured in Northern Italy; made from several thousand blocks of terracotta, and six million red bricks, it is an imposing, beautiful sight. The frieze which lines the tops of the walls is particularly spectacular; spanning 800 feet, it portrays rows and rows of figures involved in scientific and creative activities.
Regular visitors to London, such as Tunde Folawiyo, will probably be aware that the Hall is best known for its annual series called the ‘Proms’ (the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts). From July until September, orchestras perform various medleys of classical music. The last evening is invariably the most popular; during this concert, the musicians perform famous works such as ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, and ‘Jerusalem’.
Over the years, many world-class musicians and important public figures have graced the stages of this auditorium. Composers such as Elgar, Verdi, Rachmaninov and Wagner all performed here, as did the Who, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Sinatra. More recently, the Hall has hosted artists like the Kaiser Chiefs and Adele. In addition to those from the music industry, a number of leaders have spoken at this venue, including Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Sir Winston Churchill.