The Proms, BBC’s Classical Music Festival, Is All the More Important as Austerity Looms
By DAVID ALLEN
LONDON — Classical music has been part of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s mission since its early years. In 1927, when the BBC’s first royal charter dedicated it to “education and entertainment,” the corporation also took over the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts. That music festival, dating to 1895, has been under the BBC’s stewardship ever since, barring a brief wartime interlude.
This year the Proms, where I heard three solid concerts this past weekend and threemore earlier last week, is spread over eight weeks and features 76 major concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. Every performance is broadcast online and on the national classical station, BBC Radio 3, and many are shown on television.
Because of the Proms’ enviable roster of visiting orchestras, its support for contemporary composers, and its accessibility, there remain few larger forces for musical good anywhere. But it is now operating in an atmosphere of some discomfort: Its parent corporation and fellow musical broadcasters in Europe are under pressure. And the British government remains bent on austerity.
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