The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), based in London, was formed by Sir Thomas Beecham in 1946. In its early days the orchestra secured profitable recording contracts and important engagements including the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the concerts of the Royal Philharmonic Society. After Beecham's death in 1961 the orchestra's fortunes declined steeply; it battled for survival until the mid-1960s, when its future was secured after an Arts Council report recommended that it should receive public subsidy. A further crisis arose when it seemed the orchestra's right to call itself "Royal" would be withdrawn.
Since Beecham's death the RPO has had seven chief conductors, including Rudolf Kempe, Antal Doráti, André Previn and Vladimir Ashkenazy; as of 2013 the incumbent is Charles Dutoit. Others closely associated with the orchestra have included Sir Charles Groves, Sir Charles Mackerras, Peter Maxwell Davies, Yehudi Menuhin and Leopold Stokowski.
In 2004 the orchestra acquired its first permanent London base, at the new Cadogan Hall in Chelsea. The RPO also gives concerts at the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and venues around the UK and other countries. From its earliest days the orchestra has been active in the recording studios, making film soundtracks and numerous gramophone recordings; many of the LP recordings conducted by Beecham and others have been reissued on compact disc.