Our organisation encompasses the UK’s oldest continuing professional symphony orchestra,  Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, and an award-winning Learning Programme. Our ticketing system Spektrix uses cookies that are essential to making our website function properly. We also use cookies to optimise your experience on our website. For further information please refer to our privacy policy.

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Our history

The history of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Founded in 1840 by a group of Liverpool music-lovers, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic is one the world’s oldest concert societies and throughout its history, has been at the heart of Liverpool’s cultural life.

The original vision of its founders has remained a driving force and is interpreted today in Liverpool Philharmonic’s mission “to promote the love of music and music-making” at the centre of which is the award-winning Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and its associated ensembles and concert series; Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, one of the UK’s premier arts and entertainment venues; the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir; Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company incorporatingYouth Orchestra, Choir, and Children’s Choirs; and an extensive learning programme which is recognised as a national leader in its field in its quality, reach and impact on our communities.

Liverpool Philharmonic presents more than 400 concerts and events at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall including in its smaller scale venue, Music Room, and venues across the City annually.

More than 350,000 children and adults engage with Liverpool Philharmonic annually, either as ticket buyers for performances or as participants in music workshops and associated events.

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

The award-winning Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is the UK’s oldest continuing professional symphony orchestra. The origins of the Orchestra’s concert series date back to the formation of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic by a group of Liverpool music lovers in 1840.

Domingo Hindoyan was appointed Chief Conductor of the Orchestra in 2021, joining a distinguished line of musicians who have led the Orchestra during its illustrious history, including Vasily Petrenko, Max Bruch, Sir Charles Hallé, Sir Henry Wood, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir John Pritchard, Sir Charles Groves, Walter Weller, David Atherton, Marek Janowski, Libor Pešek KBE, Petr Altrichter and Gerard Schwarz. In 2018 Andrew Manze was appointed Principal Guest Conductor, and in 2021 Vasily Petrenko became Conductor Laureate.

The Orchestra gives over seventy concerts each season in its home, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, as well as concerts in venues across the city. In recent seasons the Orchestra has given world premiere performances of major works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Sir John Tavener, Karl Jenkins, Stewart Copeland, Michael Nyman, Michael Torke, Nico Muhly, James Horner and Sir James MacMillan alongside works by Liverpool-born and North West-based composers including Mark Simpson, Emily Howard and Kenneth Hesketh.

Collaborations with international artists from rock, pop, folk and dance music include Liverpool’s own Sir Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Ian Broudie and the Lightning Seeds, Echo and The Bunnymen, Cast, The Unthanks and Liverpool superclub, Cream.

Playing for Liverpool on the World Stage

Liverpool Philharmonic has long been a unique ambassador for Liverpool through an extensive touring schedule throughout the UK and internationally, and through broadcasts and recordings.

The Orchestra made its first international tour to Germany and Switzerland in 1966 with its then Principal Conductor, Sir Charles Groves. The Orchestra continues to tour widely throughout the UK and internationally, most recently touring to China, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Germany, Romania, the Czech Republic and Japan.

Browse the Orchestra on Tour page to find out about current and future tour dates.

Classic FM has been Liverpool Philharmonic's media partner since 2001, an awarding partnership brought to life in concert, on air and online that has helped to build new audiences for classical music in Liverpool. The Orchestra makes regular appearances at the BBC Proms, most recently in August 2016, and concerts are frequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and by international broadcasters when the Orchestra is on tour.

On the Record

With Vasily Petrenko, recent additions to the Orchestra’s critically acclaimed recordings catalogue include Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony (Gramophone Awards Orchestral Recording of the Year 2009), the world premiere performance of Sir John Tavener’s Requiem; Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.3 (which won Petrenko Germany’s Echo Klassik Awards 2012 Emerging Artist of the Year), Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 1, Symphonic Dances, and complete Piano Concertos with Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, also with Trpčeski, Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 and Cockaigne Overture and Tchaikovsky’s complete symphony cycle (completed in late autumn 2016). The recording of Shostakovich’s Symphony No.10, part of a critically acclaimed complete symphony cycle on disc, was the Gramophone Awards Orchestral Recording of the Year 2011.

Bringing Music to Everyone

Liverpool Philharmonic has been working with schools and the community through its orchestral programme since the 1940s, when Sir Malcolm Sargent first introduced a concert series for schools.

Today, our Learning programme offers a range of inspirational lifelong learning opportunities to enjoy and take part in live music making of the highest quality. Flagship learning programmes include annual Schools’ Concerts, performed to over 23,000 children from across the North West; leadership of In Harmony Liverpool, the El Sistema-inspired music and social change programme; and a Musician in Residence programme delivered in partnership with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Leap into Live Music! is generously supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The programme was established in 2013 to develop new audiences by working more closely with community groups, employers and families within Liverpool.

For more information about Leap into Live Music! email leap@liverpoolphil.com

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Honours

In 1957, the Liverpool Philharmonic Society and Orchestra, as they were called then, acquired the title ‘Royal’. A year later, Her Majesty the Queen became Patron – a role she has retained ever since. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir were given Royal patronage in 1990 to celebrate the society’s 150th anniversary. 

In 1989 the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society and Orchestra received an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University and in 1991 were one the first organisations to be granted the Freedom of the City of Liverpool. A further honour of Meritorious Service was granted by the City of Liverpool in 1997.

Chief Conductor, Vasily Petrenko has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University, and an Honorary Fellowship by Liverpool John Moores University. Recognising his recordings with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, he was the Classic BRIT Awards Male Artist of the Year 2012 and 2010, Germany’s Echo Klassik Awards Emerging Artist of the Year 2012, and Gramophone Awards Young Artist of the Year 2007.