About the British Music Society
40 years of celebrating British music
The British Music Society’s pioneering efforts have allowed a wealth of British music not heard for decades to be rediscovered.
The British Music Society was founded in 1979 by a group of musical enthusiasts, both amateur and professional, who believed in the need for an organisation which by its specific promotional efforts might help combat the generally indifferent attitude then widely displayed by many music lovers in this country towards their home-grown British musical tradition. It was felt that, while a number of the most famous British composers such as Purcell, Sullivan, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Delius and Britten perhaps did not need special support in this regard, often having individual societies and organisations of their own to help promote their music, many more composers of comparable worth such as Bax, Bridge, Ireland, Moeran and Warlock had written much fine music which was virtually never heard in concert halls and recording studios of the day and deserved fuller promotional attention. Moreover, this small list of names represented only the tip of a very large iceberg of British composers whose music was then little performed.
Over the forty years which have passed since the BMS was founded, there has been significant change in the cultural situation just described, due in good part to the Society’s pioneering efforts; and a wealth of British music not heard for decades has been rediscovered, particularly through the dissemination of recorded music. But 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.
This aim is pursued through the dissemination of recordings and printed publications issued under the Society’s own imprint, and the promotion of 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 publications include an annual journal (British Music) and four quarterly newsletters (News), which are distributed to all members as part of their membership. Other publications include individual monographs and occasional books, also available to members at discounted rates and to the general 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.
The British Music Society currently has over 600 members worldwide. It was granted charitable status (Charity Number 1043838) in 1995.
Raphael Wallfisch is one of the most celebrated cellists performing on the international stage. He is President of the British Music Society.
Michael Berkeley, Lord Berkeley of Knighton, CBE