LONDON (Reuters) - Leading British theater director Peter Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, has died at the age of 86, the National Theater said on Tuesday.

Hall died on Monday at University College Hospital, London, surrounded by his family, the theater said in a statement.

"Peter Hall was an internationally celebrated stage director and theater impresario, whose influence on the artistic life of Britain in the 20th century was unparalleled," it added.

Hall's career spanned more than half a century. In his mid-20s he staged the English language premiere of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" and in 1960, aged 29, he founded the Royal Shakespeare Company which he led until 1968.

Appointed Director of the National Theater in 1973, Hall was responsible for the move from the Old Vic theater to its current home in a purpose-built complex on the South Bank of the River Thames.

His work as a theater director included the world premieres of Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming" (1965), Peter Shaffer’s "Amadeus" (1979) and the London and Broadway premieres of Alan Ayckbourn's "Bedroom Farce" (1977). His last production at the National Theater was "Twelfth Night" in 2011.

Hall, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2011, was also an internationally renowned opera director and worked at many of the world’s leading houses including The Royal Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and Bayreuth where, in 1983, he staged Wagner's Ring Cycle to honor the 100th anniversary of the composer's death.

"We all stand on the shoulders of giants and Peter Hall’s shoulders supported the entirety of British theater as we know it," said National Theater director Rufus Norris in a statement.

"All of us, including those in the new generation of theater-makers not immediately touched by his influence, are in his debt. His legendary tenacity and vision created an extraordinary and lasting legacy for us all."

(Reporting by Nathan Lake; Editing by Stephen Addison)