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Friday, 17 July, 1998, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
FAQs: The Proms
The Last Night- the most famous Prom of the season
What are the Proms?

The most famous event in the Royal Albert Hall's calendar, the Proms are an eight week season of concerts covering all kinds of music from Gluck to Gershwin, Handel to Holst.

Why are they called Proms?

It's short for Promenade Concerts, reflecting the way much of the audience can stand and walk around during the concert.

Isn't it just the Last Night that matters?

Crowds of flag waving concert-goers singing along to Rule Britannia may by the most famous image of the Proms, but there's more to it than that.

The Proms aim to make classical music more accessible and less formal, combining performances of popular repertory favourities with lesser known works.

albert hall
Home to the Proms since 1941
Is there anything special about this year's concerts?

This year sees the premier of the first opera commisioned especially for the Proms: Angel Magick by British composer, John Harle.

The season will also feature a retrospective of the work of Edward Elgar, including performances of all three of his symphonies.

Is it just classical music?

The introduction of Late Night Proms has broadened the range of music included in the festival.

Amongst the more eclectic treats in store for Promenaders this year are the exotic sounds of Javanese gamelan music, the heavenly voices of the London Community Gospel Choir and an evening of Berlin cabaret songs.

Andrew Davis conducts Rule Britannia
Andrew Davis conducts Rule Britannia
How did they start?

The Proms were the brainchild of the Victorian impresario, Robert Newman. He wanted to broaden the audience for classical concerts by offering popular music in an informal atmosphere.

Newman appointed Henry Wood as conductor for the first Promenade concert in 1895 and Wood went on to wield the baton for nearly half a century of Proms.

What does the BBC have to do with them?

The Proms experienced financial problems thoroughout their early days and in 1927, the new British Broadcasting Corporation came to the rescue.

Despite fears that broadcasting technology would reduce audiences at the concerts, the BBC's involvement now means the Proms are enjoyed by far more people than their founder could ever have imagined. Each concert is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and some are also shown on BBC Television.

Click here to go to the BBC's Proms website for full details of this year's concerts.

BBC News
Proms director Nicholas Kenyon discusses this year's season
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