Evidence of human culture has existed in the British Isles since the Stone Age, including impressive henge monuments such as Stonehenge. Linked to the cultural development on the continent since prehistory and early history, the islands were under the influence of the Celts (Celtic languages) in the Bronze and Iron Ages, although they had been pushed back from Britain since Roman times. Their culture lived on mainly in Ireland (Irish art, Irish literature) as well as in the British fringes (Cymr language and literature, Cornish language and literature). The Roman culture found its continuation in the Middle Latin literature, in which the Anglo-Saxons were at times leading, and in the neo-Latin literature. Its best-known British representative is T. More with the work Utopia. Since the Middle Ages, European philosophy has been enriched by the English with a large portion of empiricism and rationalism. Since the Enlightenment, English philosophy has also been dedicated to political and economic issues.
The English art was initially closely with the development in France connected, especially in Anglo-Norman style and Norman architecture. In the Gothic, England set its own accents, especially in sacred architecture, which were later recognized as the “national style”. The Tudor style is considered typically English, and classicism has also left deep traces, for example with the Saint Paul’s Cathedral by C. Wren . Urban planning (garden city, new towns, brutalism), landscaping and garden arthave often emulated the English model since the 18th century. English painting drew attention then with portraits and later in the Romantic period with landscape paintings, for example by W. Turner .
According to watchtutorials.org, Humanism and the Reformation helped English literature get on its feet. The English theater experienced in Elizabethan drama its first heyday. This is what the much-played plays by W. Shakespeare stand for to this day. The novel became the preferred form. In classicism, Robinson Crusoe was the most successful novel to date. In addition to the Robinson Crusoe English literature in the 18th century brought the gothic novel (Gothic Novel out another genus). English- and multilingual Irish playwrights such as O. Wilde also stand for the renewal of drama from the end of the 19th century (Social comedies) and S. Beckett (grotesques). From the late 1960s onwards, the “angry young men” caused an international sensation with their political and socially critical plays. During the same period, British beat and rock music conquered the world. The English language, which established itself as the most important international lingua franca in the 20th century, was helpful in spreading it. In addition, English music, in which composers from the continent had set the tone until the Romantic era, made the musical a global model of success. Scottish music preserved its own tradition.
The Proms: Music for Millions
The so-called Proms have been delighting British music lovers for over 100 years. To this day, the Proms have remained true to their basic idea of offering a broad musical framework to the largest possible audience at the highest level.
The idea for this came from Robert Newman, director of the newly built Queen’s Hall in London in 1894. Newman had organized the big symphony concerts in the hall and now wanted to attract a wider audience with more popular programs. Popular pieces of music by the greatest composers were to be presented to the public in a less formal setting than was possible in the Queen’s Hall.
Together with the well-known organist, choir and orchestra leader Henry Wood at the time, Newman developed the Proms. The new concert series was opened in 1895 under the name “Mr Robert Newman’s Promenade Concerts”. By today’s standards, the programs were lavish and extremely cheap to attract new audiences: a three-hour concert cost the listener one shilling, a season ticket one guinea (£ 1.05). The new concert series was a hit with the public. Newman allowed the audience to stroll back and forth, eat and drink, and camp somewhere during the music.
The more serious pieces were played in the first half of a concert, the shorter second part offered – put together in a potpourri – opera or operetta melodies. In order to develop the public’s taste, Newman and Wood organized a “Wagner Night” on Mondays and a “Beethoven Night” on Fridays in the first concert season. This concept proved successful, so it was constantly expanded. By 1920 Wood had introduced many of the leading contemporary European composers to his audience: Richard Strauss, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel as well as Ralph Vaughan Williams and Sergei Rachmaninov.
In 1927, the BBC took over the concert series and continued to engage Wood and his symphony orchestra until the BBC orchestra was founded in 1930. This marked the beginning of the radio broadcast era. Wood ran the Proms until his death in 1944.
After the Queen’s Hall was destroyed in World War II, the Proms were relocated to the Royal Albert Hall. In 1966 the first foreign ensemble, the Moscow Radio Orchestra, was invited. It was quickly followed by other well-known orchestras such as the Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam or the Czech Philharmonic from Prague.
Today the Proms offer over 70 main concerts from July to September. In 1996 the series “Proms in the Park”, “Proms Chamber Music” and “Proms Lecture” started. A special event is “The Last Night of the Proms”, the annual final concert in the Royal Albert Hall. It is broadcast all over the world and takes place with flags, horns and balloons in a party atmosphere. In the end, i.a. celebrates the secret national anthems: Edward Elgar’s March in D major from “Pomp and circumstance” with the trio “Land of hope and glory, Mother of the free” and Hubert Parry’s “Jerusalem”.
English gentlemen invented competitive sport. At first they played sports and bet on “their” representatives in horse races or boxing matches before they measured their strength in rowing, tennis, cricket, polo or rugby. Soccer, on the other hand, became a proletarian mass sport. To date, competitive sport in the United Kingdom is extremely diverse. Both it and the education system are still pervaded by class thinking, which, however, is sloughing off. The nation is united by an awareness of history, a sense of the bizarre and the joy of public debate.
World Heritage Sites in Great Britain and Northern Ireland
World Heritage Sites (K) and World Natural Heritage (N)
- Coastal section Giant’s Causeway with the “Road of the Giants” (N; 1986)
- Durham Castle and Cathedral (K; 1986)
- Industrial monuments in the Ironbridge Valley (K; 1986)
- Stonehenge, Avebury and related monuments of the megalithic culture (K; 1986)
- Studley Royal Park with the ruins of Fountains Abbey (K; 1986)
- Edward I fortified towns and castles in Gwynedd, Wales (K; 1986)
- Saint Kilda archipelago (N; 1986)
- Blenheim Palace (K; 1987)
- City of Bath (K; 1987)
- Hadrian’s Wall (K; 1987)
- Westminster Abbey (palace and abbey) and Saint Margaret Parish Church in London (K; 1987)
- Henderson Island (N; 1988)
- Tower of London (K; 1988)
- Cathedral, former Saint Augustine Abbey and Saint Martin Church in Canterbury (K; 1988)
- City of Edinburgh (K; 1995)
- Gough Island Game Reserve and Inaccessible Islands (N; 1995)
- Queen’s House, park with observatory, Maritime Museum and Greenwich Naval School (K; 1997)
- Neolithic monuments on the Orkney Islands (K; 1999)
- Blaenavon industrial landscape (K; 2000)
- Historic city of Saint George with fortifications (Bermuda Islands) (K; 2000)
- Derwent Valley industrial landscape in Central England (K; 2001)
- Saltaire industrial village in West Yorkshire (K; 2001)
- Industrial model settlement New Lanark (Scotland) (K; 2001)
- Dorset and East Devon coast (“Jurassic Coast”) (N; 2001)
- Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew in London (K; 2003)
- Historic port city of Liverpool (K; 2004)
- Mining landscapes of Cornwall and West Devon (K; 2006)
- Pontcysyllte aqueduct over the Dee (K; 2009)
- Forth Bridge railway bridge over the Firth of Forth, Scotland (K; 2015)
- Neanderthal Caves and Surroundings in Gibraltar (K; 2016)
- Lake District (K; 2017)