I have several times written about the Royal Society of Musicians, whose Presidency I inherited from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies a couple of years ago. Founded in 1738 by a group of generous musicians including Handel, the Society has always had just one aim, the care of musicians who fall on hard times. It’s a model for all charities, spending very little on its own running costs, with a professional staff of only four people, including two care managers.
People of my generation will warmly remember the RSM’s former home at 10 Stratford Place, off Oxford Street. Numerous new music societies, including (warning! acronym alert) SPNM, BMIC and RPS rented basement offices underneath the more palatial rooms occupied by RSM since 1931. With incredible acumen, the Society’s trustees put that building up for sale a few years ago, achieving a fabulous financial return which I will only tastefully refer to via this hyperlink.
It was time to move, and with typical skill, the Society alighted upon 26 Fitzroy Square, part of a massive Robert Adam terrace, at that time needing a huge refurb. Which it has just had, to splendid effect (pictured) by architect Russell Taylor. Who better to open the building than Prince Charles, kindly fitting in a visit on the day after his 70th birthday, in a busy week. We all spent a cheerful hour or two, which included a short performance by Cara Berridge on a Galliano cello, one of the fine instruments the Society owns and loans out. If you are or have been a professional musician, I warmly recommend becoming a member of this beneficient, collegial organisation.