About Us

About Us

President Ian Venables
Vice-President Mark Bebbington
Vice-President Gerald Towell
Chairman David Salter
Vice-Chairman David Wilby

Founded in the year 2003 with the support and encouragement of Lady Bliss, who became our first President, the Arthur Bliss Society celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Ian Venables became President in 2010 and Mark Bebbington, who had long been a Patron and supporter of the Arthur Bliss Society, became Vice-President in 2020. The Founder-Chairman of the Arthur Bliss Society Gerald Towell was invited to become a Vice-President in 2023.

Patrons of the Society are musicians James Gilchrist, Julian Lloyd Webber, Rebeca Omordia and Anna Lapwood, composer Philip Wilby and musicologist/composer Robert Matthew-Walker.

News from the Chairman:

Fifty for Fifty – Update

An enormous amount of work has gone into the project in conjunction with the Bliss Trust; we must wait until the concert promoters release details of future plans but I can say that we have confirmed performances of the Piano Concerto and Morning Heroes in 2025. I would encourage anyone who is able to influence the future planning of orchestras, choirs or chamber music ensembles to include some Bliss music during 2025. If you are able to pull this off, please let me know so that the details can in due course be included in the Fifty for Fifty calendar.

Our interest in the orchestration by Philip Wilby of the Viola Sonata was piqued by the extremely well executed performance at the 2023 AGM event in October by violist David Aspin, together with a computer-generated orchestral accompaniment – no mean feat.  Philip Wilby’s lecture-recital on Bliss’s Unfinished Viola Concerto, which included this performance, was filmed so that it can be made available to a wider audience.

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A Challenge for 2025 – Fifty for Fifty

The Bliss Trust and the Arthur Bliss Society are working together on a ‘50 for 50’ project for 2025 to mark the 50th anniversary of Bliss’s death. The principal element of the project is the orchestration by Philip Wilby of the Viola Sonata, so that we are able to have in 2025 a world première of a Viola Concerto, which will add to the 20th century repertoire of concerti by the likes of Walton and Bartok.

The Sonata was written in 1933 for Lionel Tertis – almost forty years later, Bliss observed in his autobiography As I Remember: “As my Sonata grew, I realised that it was rapidly becoming a concerto for the instrument, and if today I had the energy and patience I would translate the piano accompaniment into an orchestral tissue, taking care that the mellow dark sombre tone of the solo instrument was not obscured by too thick a surround”. With this approval and guidance from Bliss, Philip Wilby has found the necessary ‘energy and patience’ to complete the ‘translation’ of the Viola Sonata.

‘50 for 50’ will not just be about major projects of this nature, the underlying intention is to create as much awareness as possible of Bliss’s music, particularly amongst young performers. Look on the Concerts Page for more information about this project.

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Sir Arthur Bliss – Standing out from the Crowd, the new biography by Paul Spicer, is not only informative but also described as “a good read”, giving new insights into Bliss’s music.  The Society has a limited number of discounted copies of the book available only to members at £16.50 (RRP £25) plus £3.50 postage where applicable.

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In the 2023 Classic FM’s Great British Classics Top 100, the March from Things to Come came in at Number 53. Thank you to all those who voted for this in the poll and to Caroline Secombe, Bliss’s granddaughter, in particular for coming up with the idea of encouraging members of the Arthur Bliss Society to vote. I must confess that, by the time the playlist had reached Number 60 on Coronation Bank Holiday Monday without any Bliss being played, I decided that it must be time to take the dog out for a walk in the rain only to return to hear the March being played. I really do hope that this result will mean that Bliss is introduced to fresh audiences.