City Music Society

Scope and Content

Papers of the City Music Society (1939-2005), including: administrative correspondence between the City Music Society and various organisations and individuals concerning various matters including membership, concert arrangements, musicians, concert pieces and other general matters, 1945-1999; programmes for City Music Society concerts, predominantly at the Bishopsgate Institute and Goldsmith's Hall, 1943-2002; annual reports of the City Music Society, 1943-2002; promotional leaflets and lists of City Music Society concerts, c1949-2005; two scrapbooks of press cuttings and typescript transcriptions of reviews of City Music Society concerts and advertisements, 1949-1981; cash account book of the City Music Society, 1943-1948; duplicate loose copies of `Westerham Press' City Music Society programmes, c1950-1969; invitations for City Music Society concerts, 1948-1999; early Society invoices and accounts, 1947-1962; rules and accompanying correspondence between and regarding founder members, 1949-1988; papers and correspondence regarding the 21st and 50th anniversaries of the City Music Society, 1964-1993; photographs of the City Music Society 50th anniversary concert at Goldsmith's Hall, 1993; papers, press cuttings and other material regarding Ivan Sutton's death and memorial service, 1996; non-City Music Society concert programmes, 1939-1963; members circulars, newsletters and publicity material, 1944-2005; handwritten alphabetical list of musicians who appeared at City Music Society concerts, n.d; annual general meeting, membership and subscription papers, 1949-2000; musical scores commissioned by and performed at City Music Society concerts, c1950-c1999; miscellaneous papers, including artist photographs, invitations and programmes, 1948-2001.

Administrative / Biographical History

The City Music Society was formed in 1943, influenced by lunchtime concerts organised by Hilda Bor at the Royal Exchange and by Myra Hess at the National Gallery. The driving force in the Society's foundation was Ivan Sutton, with help and encouragement by Bor, who became its Vice-President, and from Edric Cundell, Principal of the Guildhall School of Music, who served as its first President. The first event, a lecture by Cundell, took place in December 1943 at the Guildhall School, shortly followed by the first concert, a performance by the Morley College Choir, in January 1944. After subsequent Society concerts at the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Royal Exchange, Sutton succeeded in convincing the Goldsmith's Company to allow the use of its hall for a series of three evening concerts in the autumn of 1946. In the autumn of 1947 the lunchtime concerts moved from the Guildhall School to the Bishopsgate Institute where the opening concert by Louis Kentner attracted a capacity audience. Since then evening concerts at Goldsmith's Hall and Tuesday lunchtime concerts at Bishopsgate Institute have provided the regular framework within which the work of the Society has evolved.

The Society, at present, stages around 26 concerts per year and has over 2000 lunchtime and early evening concerts to its credit. It completed its 60th-anniversary season in April 2004. As well as featuring well-established musicians, the Society's policy has always attempted to invite outstanding young professional artists who are at the beginning of their careers to perform at its concerts, many of whom have since attained international status. Furthermore, over the years the Society has commissioned many new works - on average one every three years - from a wide and diverse range of British composers, including Roger Smalley, Nicholas Maw, Diana Burrell, Richard Rodney Bennett, Elizabeth Maconchy, Phyllis Tate, Robin Holloway, John McCabe, Geoffrey Burgon, Peter-Paul Nash, Kevin Volans and Michael Berkeley.


No further arrangement required.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposited at the Bishopsgate Institute by the City Music Society, via Bryan Marson-Smith, on 20 October 2005.

Other Finding Aids

Adlib catalogue

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Grace Biggins.