Throughout our 150th-anniversary celebrations, we will take a closer look at 15 significant events from our eclectic history. Whether you’re familiar with these particular pieces of history or not, we hope you enjoy walking down memory lane with us.

In our newly-released film, Your Room Will be Ready, you can see a snippet of Jacqueline du Pré performing at the Hall for the Concert in Support of the Brave People of Czechoslovakia in September 1968.

Were you there? Tell us about it – we’d love to hear what you remember of this event.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century, Jacqueline has played a significant part in our history. She performed at the Royal Albert Hall 12 times in her short but brilliant career. She made her Hall debut on 14 August 1962 at the BBC Proms where she performed Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Her performance of the Concerto proved so popular that she returned four years in succession to perform the work. But right now, we are shining the spotlight on her eighth appearance at the Hall.

Jacqueline Du Pré backstage at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968

Why a concert in support of the people of Czechoslovakia

On 2 September 1968, Jacqueline Du Pré took to our stage alongside the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by her husband Daniel Barenboim for a special concert in support of the people of Czechoslovakia, following the invasion of the country by combined forces of the Soviets and the Warsaw Pact countries mere days earlier.

The concert was put together in just five days by Daniel Barenboim and the London Symphony Orchestra to raise relief funds for the Czech people, and was to feature Jacqueline performing Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. It took place at the Hall in the day because of a BBC Prom scheduled that night.

Programme for the Concert in Support of the Brave People of Czechoslovakia, in aid of the United Nations Association and the Foundation of Czechoslovak Immigrants, 2 September 1968

Despite being recorded at the time, the Concerto was somehow lost until a few years ago. Now that this moment in musical history has been rediscovered, watch it below and remember or discover a genius who could, and still does, inspire us with music that comes to us straight from her soul.

“Du Pré, at age 23, is at the height of her powers, finding nuances and colors in the concerto that no one had discovered before or since. She commands the audience in the Hall and now, 50 years later in black and white and with less than perfect audio, she commands us, looking back through history at this extraordinary event.”
Tony Woodcock – The Forgotten Live Recording: Du Pré/Dvorak Cello Concerto 1968 in the Huffington Post

Du Pré and Barenboim would perform together at the Hall on two more occasions; on 19 October 1969 with the New Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus, with Du Pré performing the Elgar Concerto she was loved for, and on 30 September 1972, which would be the last time she would play the cello at the Hall.

Four years later, she made her last appearance at the Hall when she played the toy drum in the Toy Symphony by Haydn at a Gala Centenary Concert in aid of the Musicians Benevolent Fund (now Help Musicians UK).

1972 programme from Jacqueline Du Pre and Daniel Barenboim at the Royal Albert Hall

Dig deeper

Christopher Nupen, filmmaker and close friend of Jacqueline, directed several movies about her and her career. If you’d like to know more about her, we’d recommend watching Who was Jacqueline du Pré or our favourite: The Trout at the Southbank Centre in 1969, a year after the Concert in Support of the Brave People of Czechoslovakia at the Hall.

A little backstory from Christopher about the Trout: “In 1969 five young musicians, all of them still relatively unknown to the general public – but destined to become international artists of the highest rank – came together to play Schubert’s Trout Quintet in the new Queen Elizabeth Hall, on the south bank of the Thames. It would pass into legend in time.”

Watch as an astonishing confluence of young musical gods just about to take the entire world by storm, Daniel Barenboim, ltzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jacqueline du Pré and Zubin Mehta, prepare for the concert in this joyful movie that’s as much about what goes on behind the scenes of a legendary event as about the event itself.


9 ways you can support us

This extended closure has put the Royal Albert Hall, like many other venues, in a perilous situation.

Without shows on we have lost our major source of funding, but there remains a number of ways you can continue to support the Royal Albert Hall during this crisis: