The orchestra was formed in 1932 by Sir Thomas Beecham, and played its first concert on 7 October 1932 at the Queen's Hall, London. Its founding associate conductor was Malcolm Sargent. During the early years, the orchestra was led by Paul Beard and David McCallum, and included leading players such as Anthony Pini, Reginald Kell, Léon Goossens, Gwydion Brooke, Geoffrey Gilbert, Bernard Walton and James Bradshaw.
At one of the orchestra's early concerts, in November 1932, the sixteen-year old Yehudi Menuhin played a programme of violin concertos; those by Bach and Mozart were conducted by Beecham, and Elgar's Concerto in B minor was conducted by the composer.
In the 1930s the LPO was the orchestra for the international opera seasons at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, of which Beecham was artistic director.
Beecham conducted the orchestra in a series of 78-rpm recordings for Columbia Records, including a critically-acclaimed 1939 recording of Brahms' 2nd Symphony, which was later reissued on LP and CD.