Explore larger named collections relating to famous conductors with strong Academy associations

Sir John and Lady Evelyn Barbirolli Collections

Established by Lady Barbirolli in memory of her husband conductor Sir John Barbirolli FRAM (1899-1970). A prize-winning 'cello student at the Royal Academy of Music, Barbirolli’s early career extended from playing as soloist in Elgar's 'Cello Concerto in 1921 to performing in dance halls, cinemas and circuses. As he himself said, ‘everywhere except the street’. From 1924 he concentrated on conducting, establishing in particular a reputation as an interpreter of opera. He was invited to succeed Toscanini as the permanent conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1936 and in 1943 he returned to England when he was appointed conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, becoming its Conductor-in-Chief in 1958. During this time he worked regularly with the Houston Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, in particular. In 1961 Barbirolli assumed responsibility for the Academy’s first orchestra, with the regular assistance of Maurice Handford.

Today's student conductors are taught in the Barbirolli Room, in which part of the collection is displayed. The Sir John Barbirolli archive was acquired from Lady Evelyn Barbirolli and consists of photographs, concert programmes, paintings, sculpture, memorabilia and press cuttings, all of which can be found on the Apollo catalogue. Scrapbooks from around 1912 containing reviews, advertisements for performances, and further biographical items enrich this collection and further its research potential. A catalogue of other materials such as personal papers, diaries and correspondence is in preparation and will be made available via the Academy website in due course; in the meantime, access to these materials is available on application to the Library.

Close up of a sculpted metal hand, part of the Sir John and Evelyn Barbirolli Collections

Otto Klemperer Collection

Otto Klemperer HonRAM (1885-1973) was one of the leading conductors of the 20th-century and a distinguished authority on the Austro-German repertoire. The conductor’s daughter, the late Lotte Klemperer, presented the Klemperer Collection to the Academy in 1973.The gift includes a portrait, batons, books, and scores with Klemperer’s own markings.The bust of Klemperer was presented by Jonathan Allsop and Adam Kurakin in 1996.

Close up of a signature, reading 'Otto Klemperer 1954', blue ink on parchment with accompanying black and white portrait of the same person.

Sir Charles Mackerras Collection

The Royal Academy of Music collections offer scholars and performers an exciting opportunity to engage with some of the great figures of our musical past. An example of this is the collection of Sir Charles Mackerras. This is an outstanding research resource for those interested in performance history. The marked scores and orchestral parts contained in the collection are a valuable guide to music making throughout the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. To access this collection please contact the Library.

Portrait of Sir Charles Mackerras sitting at a desk, smiling to camera while leafing over a manuscript.

Sir Henry Wood Collection

Sir Henry Wood FRAM (1869-1944) studied composition at the Academy from 1886 with Ebenezer Prout and voice with the great pedagogue Manuel Garcia. He became established as a conductor in the 1890s and throughout his career showed a particular concern to introduce contemporary music into his programmes. He conducted the British premières of music by such composers as Debussy, Ravel, Schönberg, Shostakovich and Sibelius as well as advocating the work of English composers, including Bax and Britten. He taught at the Academy from 1923.

Held within our collections are the famous bust by Donald Gilbert which is displayed each year near the organ at the Royal Albert Hall during the BBC Proms season; photographs, caricatures, many of his own paintings in oils, some musical instruments, batons, tuning devices, his book-press and a conducting chair; and digitised pages of, for instance, his ‘Fantasia on British Sea Songs’.

Scanned black and white photo of Sir Henry Wood stood atop a conductors podium, with raised arms in front of a busy concert audience.