Works Premiered by the LSO

During the course of the 20th century, the LSO premiered a range of works, some of which are familiar, and some that may come as a surprise! Scroll through the timeline to have a look at a selection of these works.

The 1900s


Just one year after players from the Queen's Hall Orchestra resigned and formed the London Symphony Orchestra in 1904, the Orchestra performed the world premiere of Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No 3, conducted by the composer himself.


The LSO had a famously close relationship with Elgar (he became Principal Conductor in 1911!) and in 1908, they gave the first London performance of Elgar's First Symphony. This was conducted by the LSO's first ever Principal Conductor, Hans Richter.

The 1910s


The Orchestra gave the world premiere of British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis conducted by the composer.


Elgar's now-famous Cello Concerto was premiered in a concert conducted by Elgar himself, and performed by cellist Felix Salmond.

The 1920s


Exactly 100 years ago, Albert Coates conducted the first complete performance of Holst’s The Planets at the Queen’s Hall, as well as the premiere of the second revised version of Vaughan Williams’s London Symphony.


UK premiere of Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (this arrangement originally called The Paintings from the Picture Show), conducted by Serge Koussevitzky.


London premiere of Rachmaninoff's Fourth Piano Concerto, played by the composer with Albert Coates conducting.

The 1930s


A year of two premieres: in this year, the LSO gave the World premiere of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast conducted by Malcolm Sargent in Leeds. Plus Stravinsky conducted the first UK performance of his Suite from The Firebird.


World premiere of the first three movements of Walton’s Symphony No 1, conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty.

The 1940s


This year saw the world premiere of Britten’s Matinées Musicales (Suite No 2) conducted by Anatole Fistoulari.


The LSO performed in a film called Instruments of the Orchestra featuring the premiere of Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Sargent.

The 1950s


The LSO gives the first London performance of Strauss’ Symphonic Fragment, The Legend of Joseph, conducted by Eugene Goossens.


First UK performance of Mahler’s Das klagende Lied, conducted by Walter Goehr.

Image: Gustav Mahler

The 1960s


World premiere of Tippett’s Concerto for Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis at the Edinburgh Festival. Other famous 'orchestra concertos' come from Hindemith (1925), Bartók (1943) and André Previn (2016).


UK premiere of Bernstein’s ‘Jeremiah’ Symphony, conducted by Seiji Ozawa.

Image: Seji Ozawa

The 1970s


World premiere of Ravi Shankar’s LSO-commissioned Sitar Concerto, with Shankar as sitarist, conducted by André Previn. Shankar was a key figure in bringing sitar music to the Western mainstream, with performances such as these helping him promote the sitar.

London premiere of Shostakovich’s 13th Symphony (‘Babi Yar’), conducted by André Previn.

Image: Ravi Shankar



This was another year that saw not one, but two premieres. Both conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas (who is today LSO Conductor Laureate), the LSO gave the world premiere of Colin Matthews' Quatrain and the UK premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mlada.

The 1990s


World premiere of James MacMillan’s Britannia, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.


World premiere of Paul McCartney’s Standing Stone, conducted by Lawrence Foster.

If you enjoyed this voyage through the LSO's history, why not have a look at our weekly listening recommendation by Phillip, our discographer?

Visit our Archive Recommendations page for more.

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