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The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is a British orchestra based in London. It tours widely, and is sometimes referred to as "Britain's national orchestra". The RPO was founded in 1946 by Sir Thomas Beecham and played its first concert in Croydon on September 15, 1946. Beecham was principal conductor until his death in 1961. He was followed by then assistant conductor Rudolf Kempe, who was given the title of Conductor for Life in 1970. Subsequent musical directors and principal conductors have been Antal Doráti, Walter Weller, André Previn, Vladimir Ashkenazy.
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