I am delighted to have been asked to become
the President of the Arthur Bliss Society.
I became acquainted with his music as a young
man and was privileged to have been at the
recording sessions of Charles Groves’s
landmark recording of Morning Heroes in 1974.
His wonderful music has been my constant
companion since that time and became even more
meaningful when, in 1996, I met and became friends
with his wife Trudy.
Her encouragement in my own creative life as a
composer was invaluable and her enthusiasm for
her husband’s music touched all those who knew
her. Arthur Bliss’s role as one of England’s
foremost composers is now assured, and it is an
honour to be part of a Society which will continue
to carry his legacy into the future.
Ian Venables was born in 1955 and educated at Liverpool Collegiate Grammar School. He
studied music with Professor Richard Arnell at Trinity College of Music, London and later
with John Joubert, Andrew Downes and John Mayer at the Birmingham Conservatoire.
His compositions encompass many genres, and he has added significantly to the canon of
English art song. Described as “…a song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney…” (BBC
Music Magazine) and “…one of the finest song composers of his generation…” (BMS
Newsletter), he has written over 60 works in this genre, which includes seven song-cycles,
Venetian Songs - Love’s Voice Op.22 (1995); Invite to Eternity Op.31 (1997) for tenor and
string quartet; Songs of Eternity and Sorrow Op.36 (2004) for tenor, string quartet and
piano; On the Wings of Love Op.38 (2006) for tenor, clarinet and piano; The Pine Boughs
Past Music Op.39 (2009) for baritone and piano; Remember This Op.40 (2011) a Cantata
for soprano, tenor, string quartet, and piano (recently orchestrated) and The Song of The
Severn Op.43 (2013) for baritone, string quartet and piano.
His many chamber works include a Piano Quintet Op.27 (1995) - described by Roderic
Dunnett in the Independent as ‘…lending a new late 20th Century dimension to the English
pastoral…’, a String Quartet Op.32 (1998) and more recently a Canzonetta Op.44 for
clarinet and string quartet (2013). He has also written works for choir - Awake, awake, the
world is young Op.34 - organ - Rhapsody Op.25 (1996), brass and solo piano.
He is an acknowledged expert on the 19th century poet and literary critic John Addington
Symonds, and apart from having set five of his poems for voice and piano, he has
contributed a significant essay to the book John Addington Symonds - Culture and the
Demon Desire (Macmillan Press Ltd, 2000). His continuing work on the music of Ivor
Gurney has led to orchestrations of two of his songs (2003) - counterparts to the two that
were orchestrated by Herbert Howells - and newly edited versions of Gurney’s War Elegy
(1919) and A Gloucestershire Rhapsody (1921), with Dr Philip Lancaster. He is a Vice-
President of the Gloucester Music Society. His music is published by Novello and Co Ltd
and has been recorded on the Regent, Somm, Signum and Naxos labels.
The Arthur Bliss Society