The history of the Light Music Society

Beginnings of the Light Music Society

The Light Music Society (LMS) was founded in 1957 with Eric Coates as the first president and later Sir Arthur Bliss. It's aims were:

  • to champion Light Music throughout the world


  • to obtain increased facilities for those interested in this form of culture by means of broadcasting, recording and general performance.

Although this was the heyday of Light Music, with many light orchestras making weekly broadcasts, the composer Billy Mayerl - who edited the first LMS newsletters - noted that there was a great need for the Society because:

"Light Music is in danger, not from direct assault, but from the fact that the lover of light music has no-one to speak for him. There are many societies for 'serious' music and many for jazz, but until now, none for light music."

For the first twenty years the Society was very active and regular meetings, concerts, competitions, bulletins and social events were held. In 1966 Ernest Tomlinson became chairman and with help from other members of the Society, he succeeded in keeping light music 'on the air' through the Society's influence with the BBC.

The Orchestra of the Light Music Society

In 1968, the Orchestra of the Light Music Society was launched at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The Orchestra broadcasted regularly in the early 1970s and recorded two long playing records for HMV - these continue to receive broadcast performances today.

Decline of the Light Music Society

Around 1976, largely due to lack of support for light music in the world, the Society reduced its activities and appointed a small caretaker committee. Further reductions in support and activities meant that from 1984 to 1996 the Society was solely a backing organisation for the Library of Light-Orchestral Music.

LMS re-born

In the early 1990s, there was a resurgence of interest in Light Music, with an increase in recordings made and live performances. This gave the chairman and committee the incentive to consider more activity once again in the light music cause.

New recordings were released in the Marco Polo British Light Music series and on the Naxos, Hyperion and ASV labels. As most of the printed music was unavailable from any other source, the Library of Light-Orchestral Music supplied much of the orchestral music needed for these. Around the same time, some recordings of the Light Music Society Orchestra were also re-issued.

This flurry of Light Music activity brought the LMS to the notice of listeners once more and frequent enquiries to join the Society were received along with regular requests for information about various aspects of light music. At a meeting at London's Royal College of Music in July 1996, it was decided that the Society be fully reactivated.

The Society today

Since 1996 the Society has grown considerably and the work of the Library increases accordingly. We now have members from all over the UK as well as some in Europe, Canada and the USA. These include many people who perform with light orchestras or ensembles (professional and amateur), composers, broadcasters, authors of books about light music and many who simply enjoy listening to light music and want to help its active promotion.

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
    • at

Calendar of events

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