By the middle of the 19th century, the Society was looking for a new musical direction. Enter stage left the young, supremely confident Richard Wagner, who was appointed chief conductor of the Society's orchestra for one truly tumultuous concert season in 1855. Donald Macleod explores the highs and lows, the drama and mutual antipathy with the help of cultural historianb Leanne Langley, before presenting works by Spohr and the "great white hope" of Victorian British music, William Sterndale Bennett. He also introduces the Society's relationship with European composers of the late 19th century and the reception of Tchaikovsky's dramatic "Pathetique" symphony.
The programme ends with a masterpiece of 20th century British orchestral music - Thea Musgrave's Clarinet Concerto, commissioned by the RPS in 1969.