History of the Musician's Company
Medieval Origins
As in the rest of Europe during the 11th and 12th centuries, groups of people who lived and worked in the same areas and neighbourhoods of England formed associations and fraternities. At first religious and social, they developed into guilds for trade, crafts and arts.
The first mention of guilds in London was in 1130, with the Weavers, and in 1160 with the Saddlers.
Musicians in official employment were mentioned in the City Letter Books in 1334, 1337 and 1371; and it is known that the Waits, who were both watchmen and musicians, were well established by that time.
Articles of Incorporation granted in 1500 by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen to the Fellowship of Minstrels gave them power to "control the activities of all musicians practising their art in the City of London".
That control was by no means absolute, however, even when the Musicians of London obtained a Royal Charter from James I in 1604. In fact, it was the start of a period of intense and bitter rivalry between the Musicians and the King's Minstrels at Westminster, who in 1634 succeeded in obtaining an order from the Court of Chancery revoking the Charter of 1604.
The Musicians' Company survived but its ability to control professional musicians in the City of London steadily declined.
A renaissance came two and a half centuries later when, in the 1870s, the musician and antiquarian William Chappell formed a group within the Company which was able to interest wealthy benefactors in the education and development of young musicians.
The Company was granted a new Royal Charter in 1950 by King George VI and in recent years has grown in numbers and strength, reasserting a different and wholly benign influence on music-making nationally.
The Pursuit of Excellence
The Worshipful Company of Musicians is the only City livery company clearly identified with the pursuit and recognition of excellence in the performing arts, being closely associated with the trades and crafts of music-making and the education and promotion of young musicians.
The Company encourages and fosters the art and practice of music not only in the City of London but throughout the UK, and supports a wide range of disciplines - from vocal, orchestral and chamber music to military, brass band and jazz.
The Company acts as trustee for several charitable funds set up by individual benefactors, including:
  • The Allcard Award for, among many objectives, postgraduate study and maintenance of the Westrup Collection on loan to the Guildhall School of Music;
  • Constant and Kit Lambert Fund, a residual legacy to the Royal College of Music which pays for undergraduate and postgraduate study and a Fellowship.
  • Collard Fellowship ;
  • W T Best Memorial Scholarship (organ);
  • Carnwath Scholarship (piano);
  • John Christie Award (young singer at Glyndebourne);
  • Maisie Lewis & Concordia Awards (recitals at Wigmore Hall);
  • Priaulx Rainier Award (new music); and The Company's Jazz Medals.
The Worshipful Company of Musicians has more than 400 liverymen and its affairs are managed by the Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden, elected annually, and the Court of Assistants.

Latest News & Events
Musicians' Company Concerts: auditions

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The Company holds a number of events throughout the year, some of which are open to members of the public.

Full details of forthcoming events can be found on the events page.

Company members have to log-in to gain access to details of Company events.
Download the latest pamphlet about the WCofM
Download a copy of Preserve Harmony
The Company's bi-annual newsletter.

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Contact details:
The Worshipful Company of Musicians,
1 Speed Highwalk,
London EC2Y 8DX.
(click map left for detailed map)
Tel: 020 7496 8980 / Fax: 020 7628 4528
email: clerk@wcom.org.uk

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