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A dedicated home for music memorabilia, exploring the past, present and future of music archives. Find your own piece of the story.

Wizkid in 2017. He became the first Afrobeats artist to headline a sold-out show at the Hall. Photo copyright Christie Goodwin. Courtesy RAH Archive

Assembling archives: The Royal Albert Hall

Called in 2011 to create a working archive for the Royal Albert Hall, Liz Harper discusses how she has curated the collection which charts thirty-five thousand performances to date and shows MAG_BTM some of the treasures she has found.

You’d be hard pressed to name an institution more symbolic of Britain’s music culture than the Royal Albert Hall. The famed auditorium has held innumerable performances since it opened its doors in 1871, memorial concerts, fundraisers, talks, symposiums, balls, rallies – even circus acts and indoor marathons. Often perceived to be a traditional classical music venue – home to The Proms the Hall has been described as the birthplace of the 1960s counterculture movement, hosting some of the most iconic moments in popular music history.

“I’ve always been fascinated wherever I go as to why people are the way they are, or why someone looks the way they do; and you can only know that by diving down into their history,” says Liz Harper, who arrived at the Hall in 2011 to collect, preserve and make accessible the Hall’s heritage. “We’ve catalogued about two thirds of our collection. It’s 150 years’ worth of history!”

Over the past eleven years, Harper has led her team to create the largest venue performance database in the world, freely accessible online, with a physical collection onsite by appointment, which includes 30,000+ programmes, posters, handbills, photographs, costumes and autographs. Here she busts the stuffy myths around archiving, and discusses what to expect from the RAH’s next 150 years…

  1. Titanic Band Concert 24 May 1923

    The concert featured 470 musicians to make the ‘greatest orchestra ever assembled’ conducted by Sir Henry Wood and Sir Edward Elgar.

    Photograph copyright RAH Archive.

  2. Season of Queen’s Hall Promenade Concerts [Prom 1]’ at Royal Albert Hall.

    Programme cover for ‘The Royal Philharmonic Society – Sir Henry Wood’s Forty-Seventh Season of Queen’s Hall Promenade Concerts [Prom 1]’.

    Courtesy the RAH Archive

  3. BBC Proms during wartime

    Press cutting from wartime concert.

    Courtesy RAH Archives

  4. 1963 Programme of Autumn events

    From the Bucharest State Orchestra to a Boxing Tournament, the Hall has always played host to a multitude of different events.

    Courtesy the RAH Archives

  5. The Great Pop Prom, 1963

    15 September 15 1963 saw The Rolling Stones and The Beatles perform on the same bill.

    Courtesy the RAH Archives

  6. Jimi Hendrix visits London inf 1969

    The musician performing on stage at the Hall in 1969.

    Courtesy RAH Archive.

  7. Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: When Two Worlds Meet!

    Programme for concert, 24 September 1969 which was the band’s Hall debut and one of the first times rock and classical had collided.

    Courtesy RAH Archive.

  8. Programme cover for rock concert at the RAH

    1970 programme from Canned Heat, Renaissance and Deep Purple Concert at the Royal Albert Hall

    Courtesy the RAH Archive

  9. Paul Simon in 1972

    Paul Simon performing during ‘The Graceland Tour’ at the Royal Albert Hall.

    Courtesy the RAH Archive

  10. Adele, 22 September 2011

    Photograph copyright Christie Goodwin. Courtesy the RAH Archives

  11. 150 year celebrations at the Hall in 2021

    Courtesy of RAH Archives

  12. In the vaults

    The vaults where after 10 years of careful archiving the files are now safely stored.

    Courtesy the RAH Archives