The history of the Light Music Library

The inspiration for founding the Library of Light Orchestral Music came from Ernest Tomlinson. He was dismayed that thousands of orchestral works, once owned by music publishers, conductors, disbanded orchestras, concert halls, theatres, broadcasters and others, were being destroyed - either as a policy or simply because of indifference. Even more would disappear unless the surviving music could be collected and cared for. Thankfully, he could provide such a repository of music at his home.

In 1969 the Light Music Society sponsored a recording called Britain's Choice, released by HMV and featuring music played by the Light Music Society Orchestra, conducted by Sir Vivian Dunn. The 'choice' of music was made according to a vote of LMS members. Royalties from the sales of the recording provided the chairman with the opportunity to develop a project on which to use this income.

The Library of Light-Orchestral Music was this project and with the backing of the Light Music Society, it was subsequently created. Initial administration costs that enabled the purchase of a computer and printer, now long obsolete, were met from the Light Music Society's own funds. Most of the material in the library was (and continues to be) donated. The remainder was acquired at minimal cost.

The Library was established with the aims of preserving orchestral material - much of it in danger of being destroyed for all time - and furthering interest in this range of music. The target users of the Library were to be orchestras and performers who had difficulty finding such music.

The Library has continued successfully as a self-supporting entity - the cost of the service to orchestras and others being covered by the modest charges for hire or sale of non copyright material. It has, however, also received modest royalty income from the issuing of individual tracks of the Britain's Choice on CD and cassette. Britain's Choice has subsequently been re-issued in full on the Vocalion label, number CDLK4182.

One of the largest costs the Library has faced has been for transport when acquiring new material for the collection. The cost of hiring vehicles or paying fuel costs to willing car or van owners has been considerable. We have therefore been very grateful that many donors have delivered music to us themselves!

The main ongoing cost is that of administration: cataloguing and secretarial work, including the quarterly production of the Light Music Society magazine. As the library has expanded the other main expense has been the costs of specially designed new shelving.

The Library relies heavily on Ernest Tomlinson's experience as composer, arranger, performer, conductor and orchestral manager in this highly specialized field of light-orchestral music over more than 50 years. His computers, printers and photocopier, which are for the business connected with his own compositions, are at the disposal of the Library.

Forthcoming events

25 February 2018

25 March 2018

17 December 2018

  • Erato Orchestra In Concert

    • Erato Orchestra Conductor: Ian Butterworth Violin: Geoffrey Silver at St Mark's Church, Church Road, Purley, CR8 3QQ

19 February 2018

    • at
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Calendar of events

February 2018

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