Victorian London - Education - Professional / Technical Colleges - Royal College of Music

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CLOSE beside the Albert hail, upon its western side, stands the Royal College of Music. In July, 1878, the first meeting for the establishment of this college was convened at Marlborough House by the Prince of Wales.
    At the time when this meeting was held there were already in existence 'The Royal Academy of Music' and the 'National Training School.' Anxious to avoid rivalry, it was attempted from the first meeting to amalgamate the two existing institutions, and then add them to the proposed Royal College of Music, and re-construct the whole upon such a basis as would include the three in one. Owing to opposition from the Royal Academy the scheme fell through. As soon as this break-down became evident, the Prince of Wales addressed himself, with commendable and successful energy, to the carrying out of a scheme independently of the other institutions; and for that purpose he convened a meeting at St. James' Palace, for February 28th, 1882, at which both himself and the Duke of Edinburgh attended and delivered addresses. In the address of the Prince of Wales the following words will show his intention concerning the new institution:-
'I wish to establish an institution having a wider basis and a more extended influence than any existing school or college of music in this country. It will teach music of the highest class; it will have a foundation for the education, and in some cases for the free maintenance, of pupils who have obtained by merit the right to such privileges. -But it will do more than this. It will be to England what the Berlin Conservatoire is to Germany, what the Paris Conservatoire is to France, or the Vienna Conservatoire is to Austria-the recognised centre and head of the musical world. Why is it that Germany, France, and Italy have national styles of music? Why is it that England has no music recognised as national? It has able composers, but nothing indicative of the national life or national feeling. The reason is not far to seek. There is no centre of music to which English musicians may resort with confidence, and thence derive instruction, counsel, and inspiration. I hope by the breadth of my plan to interest all present in its success. You who are musicians must desire to improve your art, and such will be the object of the Royal College. You who are only lovers of music must wish well to a plan which provides for all classes of Her Majesty's subjects a pleasure which you yourselves enjoy so keenly. To those who are deaf to music, as practical men, I would say thus much: To raise the people you must purify their emotions and cultivate their imaginations. To satisfy the natural craving for excitement you must substitute an innocent and healthy mode of acting on the passions for the fierce thirst for drink and eager pursuit of other unworthy objects. Music acts directly on the emotions, and it cannot be abused, for no excess in music is injurious.'
    The present premises of the Royal College of Music, which were presented to the Prince of Wales by the late Sir C. J. Freake, Bart., were opened by the Prince on May 7th, 1873. The College is incorporated by Royal Charter, granted May 23rd, 1883. At the Annual Meeting, held July 24th, 1888, there were 229 students upon the College register. At that meeting the following cheering announcements were made, raising the anticipation that in a short time the Royal College of Music might fairly be expected to be settled in permanent and more commodious quarters:- 
    'Mr. Samson Fox, of Leeds, desirous of benefiting his fellow-countrymen by the promotion of musical education, has offered to H.R.H. the President the munificent gift of 30,000 for a new collegiate building, to be erected upon all appropriate site to be determined by Her Majesty's Commissioners of 1851. This most generous offer has been accepted by His Royal Highness, and the Council have now the additional satisfaction of announcing that the Commissioners have granted a site for the new building on the South Kensington Estate in Prince's Gate.'
    In the course of the Presidential Address at the Annual Meeting the Prince of Wales uttered the following words concerning Mr. Samson Fox, and the good gift which he had been pleased to make for the New College of Music
    I am sure you would like me to say a word or two in acknowledgment of this munificent gift. Mr. Samson Fox is a man of the people, working from his early youth. Gifted with great natural talent as an inventor, he has raised himself to such a position that he is able to do yeoman s service to his country; and having in the course of his arduous struggle upwards found in music his joy and his solace, he is now offering to the nation the advantages and the pleasures which he has himself derived from the cultivation of that beautiful art. Not only through his instrumentality are we about to have a new and handsome College, but we are to retain the existing College as a succursale to the new College; so I hope that we have ample room to grow, and that the Royal College of Music will no longer be dwarfed and confined in that narrow space which it now occupies, but that it will be housed in a manner worthy of the institution and of the nation, and of the musical instruction of which it is the head.'
    This projected building has been erected and opened. It stands immediately behind the Albert Hall; and forms part of an excellent group of educational buildings. The Natural History Museum; the South Kensington Museum; the Imperial Institute, &c., &c., are all in this locality; and, though our space will not permit a description of these places of National and International interest, it would be a pity if visitors, being near them, should not know that this is the neighbourhood in which they are located.

John Fletcher Porter, London Pictorially Described, [1890]