fonds BMS - Records of the British Music Society of York

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Reference code



Records of the British Music Society of York


  • 1925-2004 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.1 cubic metres

5 boxes

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

The British Music Society of York was established in 1921 as a local branch of the British Music Society, a national body founded in 1918 by Dr Arthur Eaglefield Hull to advance the cause of music in Britain. Its inaugural meeting, held on 17 March 1921 at the Guildhall, was chaired by the Lord Mayor of York, Alderman E. Walker, and included a lecture by Dr Arthur Eaglefield Hull, Honorary Director of the British Music Society until 1922, and a performance by the composer William Baines.

Between 1921 and 1933 the Society was known as The York Centre of the British Music Society, but following the dissolution of its parent body in 1933 it reconstituted itself as an autonomous organisation under the name of the British Music Society of York. The objectives of the Society, as stated in its rules, were ‘to foster the appreciation of music, both by members’ activities and by the promotion of professional concerts of a high standard, as a contribution to the cultural life of the City’.

At its creation the Society consisted of: a president, three vice-presidents, a chairman, a vice-chairman, a secretary, a treasurer, an auditor, and a committee of twelve members who were responsible for the general management of the Society and controlled its expenditure and finances. Presidents have included Lady Worsley (1957-1972), and Dr Francis Jackson (1973-c.2004). Members paid an annual subscription which entitled them to vote at the Society’s General Meetings and to participate in the Society’s activities which included concerts, opera film showings and an annual dinner. Meetings and regular musical evenings for members were held at the Society’s ‘Club Room’ at Messrs Waddington & Sons Ltd in Stonegate from 1923. In subsequent years, the Society had no fixed offices in the City, and operated on an ad hoc basis from the homes of various committee members.

The Society’s overriding concern was to provide high quality music for its members, both to give pleasure and to maintain ‘for York a standard which ... enriched the musical traditions of our City.’ The Society arranged a programme of concerts for each season known as the ‘Syllabus’. However, the Society had no concert hall of its own, and its concerts were staged in a number of different venues including at the Festival Concert Rooms, the City Art Gallery, and St Mary’s Convent in Blossom Street. However, Tempest Anderson Hall became the main venue for the Society’s concerts from 1925 until 1981, when its concerts were transferred to Bootham School Hall. Concerts were staged at Bootham School Hall between 1981 and 1987, and then at the University of York’s Jack Lyons Concert Hall from 1988 to the present day.

Over the course of its existence the Society staged a number of special concerts, including the Hugh Wood Season in 1981-82, which was assisted by a grant from the National Federation of Music Societies with whom the Society had affiliated in 1955. The Society also sponsored a series of concerts during the York Festival and Mystery Plays in the summers of 1976, 1980, and 1984, and the Early Music Festival in 1981. It celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a concert on 16 February 1996, at which Melinda Maxwell and the Brindisi Quartet gave the premiere of Christopher Fox’s Oboe Quintet, a work specially composed for the occasion. The Society is now in its 86th season of concerts, and continues to flourish.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute by the Society in 2006, having been formerly kept at the home of a Society official.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Minutes of committee meetings and annual general meetings, 1954-1982; correspondence and papers of the honorary secretary, 1976-1985; account book, 1973-1981; financial correspondence and papers of the honorary treasurer, 1983-1985; concert season programmes, 1925-1926, 1934-1938, 1944-1946, 1948-1969; individual concert programmes, 1946, 1954-1958, 2003-2004; York Festival concert programmes and related papers, 1975-1976, 1979-1980, 1983-1984; Harrogate subscription concert programme, 1931-1932; bulletins of the National Federation of Music Societies, 1964-1982.


Further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A typescript finding aid, to file level, is available for consultation in the searchroom of the Borthwick Institute.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Notes area

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by S. A. Shearn, 22.04.15.




Accession area