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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Last Night of the Proms (2004)

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A yearly tradition, this coming Saturday will be the Last Night at the Proms. I thought it would be appropriate to recycle an old broadcast to illustrate and discuss this special concert and its unique format.

The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in central London, England.

Founded in 1895, each season currently consists of more than 70 concerts in the Albert Hall, a series of chamber concerts at Cadogan Hall, additional Proms in the Park events across the United Kingdom on the last night, and associated educational and children's events. It is without question the United Kingdom's biggest annual music festival.

Prom is short for promenade concert, a term which originally referred to outdoor concerts in London's pleasure gardens, where the audience was free to stroll around while the orchestra was playing. This "tradition" has been copied everywhere around the world, and every major orchestra today has "Pops" series though nothing compares quite with the symbolism and oozing nationalism of the seminal event of the festival, the "Last Night" concert.

Indeed, many people's perception of the Proms is taken from the Last Night, although this concert is very different from the others. Broadcast nationally on BBC Television, the concert typically has a more "accessible classics" first part followed by a series of British patriotic pieces in the second half of the concert.

This sequence established in 1954 includes Edward Elgar's "Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1" (to part of which "Land of Hope and Glory" is sung) and Henry Wood's "Fantasia on British Sea Songs", followed by Thomas Arne's "Rule, Britannia!". The concert concludes with Hubert Parry's "Jerusalem" (a setting of a poem by William Blake), and the British national anthem.

The video I chose today happens to be one of the few "complete" broadcasts I could find on YouTube, and happens to be Leonard Slatkin's farewell concert with the BBC Symphony.


PART 1 [Stats at 3:00]

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Karneval, koncertní ouvertura (Carnival Overture), op. 92 [B. 169]

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Horn Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, op. 11 [TrV 117]
David Pyatt, horn

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
5 Mystical Songs, for baritone, chorus ad lib and orchestra (1911)
Thomas Allen, baritone

Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Toccata Festiva, for organ and orchestra, op. 36
Simon Preston, organ

PART 2 [Starts at 1:12:00]

Sir Peter Maxwell DAVIES (1934-2016)
Ojai Festival Overture, for orchestra, J. 240

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Coro a bocca chiusa (Humming Chorus) from Madama Butterfly (1904)

Showtune Medley featuring Thomas Allen, baritone:
Richard RODGERS (1902-1979)
"Oh, what a beautiful morning" from Oklahoma! (1943, arr. Robert Russell Bennett)

Cole PORTER (1891-1964)
"Where is the life that late I led?" from Kiss Me Kate (1948)

Sir Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900)
- "I've got a little list" , rom The Mikado (1884-85)- additional lyrics by Kit Hesketh-Harvey

John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932)
March 'The Liberty Bell' (1893)

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major ('Land of Hope and Glory'), op. 39, no. 1

Sir Henry J. WOOD (1869-1944)
Fantasia on British Sea Songs (1905, with additional Songs arranged by Stephen Jackson)

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY (1848-1918)
Jerusalem ('And did those feet in ancient time', 1910)

National Anthem (arr. Henry Wood)

BBC Singers
BBC Symphony Chorus
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin Conductor

Royal Albert Hall
Saturday 11 Sep 2004
Alan Titchmarsh, presenter

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Updated Sep-06-2016 at 15:04 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Concerts , Recorded Music


  1. itywltmt's Avatar
    We are featuring the music from this post as part of our ongoing “222 day Binge Challenge” on the For Your Listening Pleasure podcast September 11 and 12, 2021. The following notes are an update with useful links we have created or discovered since the original post.

    A few years ago, I created a pair of archive pages for the music shared in this post:

    The “unedited” video itself –

    The audio track, with some editing –

    Happy (further) listening!