About the BMS

The British Music Society’s pioneering efforts have allowed a wealth of British music not heard for decades to be rediscovered. Founded in 1979 by a group of musical enthusiasts, both amateur and professional, there was a need for an organisation which encouraged greater awareness and appreciation of the home-grown British musical tradition.

Many famous British composers such as Purcell, Sullivan, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Delius and Britten already enjoy special support having individual societies and organisations which help promote their music. But there are many more composers of comparable worth such as Bax, Bridge, Ireland, Moeran and Warlock:

This small list of names represented only the tip of a very large iceberg of British composers whose music has been little performed and whose music the BMS believe deserves a wider awareness and fuller attention.

The impact we have had

Fortunately, over the 40 years since the BMS was founded there has been significant change in this cultural situation, due in good part to the Society’s pioneering efforts. Consequently, a wealth of British music not heard for decades has been rediscovered. However, the need for special promotional effort continues, and the aim of the British Music Society remains to encourage and renew international enthusiasm for much British music of the last 150 years or so which is still too often undeservedly neglected.

How we pursue our aims

This aim is pursued through the dissemination of recordings and printed publications, the promotion of a lecture-recital series and occasional concert performances for which the Society acts as sponsor. New recordings by the Society are released on the Naxos label, while archive and historic performances are available on the original BMS label.

BMS communicates to its members and the wider community online through a monthly E-News containing news, reviews and concert listings. Publications for members include the annual British Music journal and a BMS News magazine three times a year. Other publications include individual monographs and occasional books. These are available to members at discounted rates as well as to the wider public.

The Society’s principal live-music activity has been its biennial BMS Awards competition, open to young musicians studying at one of the eight major British music colleges and devoted to promoting performances of rarely heard British music. Since 1995 when the BMS was granted charitable status (No 1043838) it has grown to a membership of over 600 worldwide.

Our President

President of the British Music Society, Raphael Wallfisch is one of the most celebrated cellists on the international stage. Wallfisch is a champion of British music with a particular passion for the cello pieces of British composers including Gerald Finzi, Frederick Delius, Arnold Bax, Arthur Bliss, Benjamin Britten and Ernest John Moeran.

Some pieces were especially written for him and he has often worked in close collaboration with composers such as Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Kenneth Leighton, James MacMillan, Paul Patterson, Robert Simpson, Robert Saxton, Roger Smalley, Giles Swayne, John Taverner, Adrian Williams and Jonathan Dove.

Our Vice Presidents

Lord Berkeley of Knighton CBE
Malcolm Binns
Tasmin Little CBE
Sir Simon Rattle CBE
Betty Roe MBE
Roderick Williams

Our Committee

John Gibbons, vice-chairman
Stephen Trowell, treasurer
Dr Ian Maxwell, Journal editor

To contact the BMS please email britishmusicsociety@gmail.com