Federation of Recorded Music Societies (FRMS) can claim to have played
its part in developing greater enthusiasm and understanding of recorded
classical music over a substantial portion of the past century
Gramophone societies have existed in the UK since the very earliest
years of recorded sound: the Prudential Assurance Company Society for
example is noted as forming in 1904. However, those early meetings tended
to concentrate on the rival merits of particular equipment and reproducing
systems, reflecting the novelty of the invention itself, but with the
music often assuming very much a secondary role. This preoccupation
was not to be broken until the mid 1920's and the introduction of electrical
Attempts to amalgamate societies into groups began as far back as 1913
in Northampton, but it wasn't until the 25th July 1936 that some 37
members of 14 societies met at the Columbia Recording Studios, Abbey
Road, to launch the fledgling "National Federation of Gramophone
Societies", FRMS's precursor.
Although the title has been changed to reflect more recent developments,
the aims of the movement have remained basically unaltered. For example,
the Federation was amongst the first to proclaim the desirability of
a national gramophone library. Although this was eventually realised
by others, it did not prevent pioneering spirits from providing an extensive
service to Federation affiliates. In the 1950's W.W. Johnson, then Chairman,
not only maintained a collection of over 1000 discs on the movement's
behalf, but shuttled them up and down the country by post, providing
an essential backup to early affiliate programmes. The dedication involved
was astonishing, considering that the whole enterprise was undertaken
from a small back-bedroom in North London, England without any assistance-
even from members of the family !
In post-war Britain the movement boomed. Since the opportunities for
the appreciation of good music was not as easy as it is today, the chance
of hearing new recordings on fine equipment, set within the context
of an informative talk, proved to be a strong lure.... and despite some
rationalisation in modern times, that attraction is still present in
the 21st century as around 200 societies continue to ply their trade.
Indeed, with increased availability of rare repertoire, programme activity
is more diverse than ever before; composer biographies vie with miscellanies,
opera and choral music with instrumental programmes, symphonic music
with jazz, and artist profiles with surveys of historical periods.
The Federation provides such groups with licensing and insurance services,
at an economic rate, without which individual societies would find it
difficult to operate. It can advise its affiliates about the wider issues
of copyright, insurances and other legislation or business practices
that interest recorded music societies. Federation officers and committee
members are themselves members of their own societies and collectively
are well experienced in all aspects of society management and operation
and are thus able to advise or assist other affiliates on any topics
that affect them.
The Federation also manages a web site on which societies can promote
their activities and publishes a twice-yearly magazine, The Bulletin,
that is full of interesting articles, advice on programme planning,
and record and book reviews, plus of course, news and information from
around the movement.
Federation also promotes a wider music community. Increased interchange
of activities, ideas and people between the dispersed societies is achieved
by the formation of Regional Groups (with attendant local activities
and exchange of presenters), and through day or weekend events organised
regionally and nationally. Notable regional events are the Music Weekends
held at Torbay and Scarborough. These comprise a varied sequence of
presentations, often featuring guests from the world of music performance
or the record industry.
The FRMS annual national Musical Weekend has taken place for many years
and is considered to be the prestige event in the Federation calendar,
attracting delegates from all over the UK. It has been successful in
securing the patronage of celebrities and leading personalities from
all fields of musical endeavour. These events have been held at educational
establishments at Hoddesdon and Cambridge and subsequently at high quality
hotels at Corby and Stratford-on-Avon. The events are currently held
at The Daventry Hotel in Northamptonshire.
the early years, there were opportunities to hear Sir Malcolm Arnold,
Dame Janet Baker, Andre Previn and Leslie Howard. Personalities who
have appeared more recently include David Mellor, Allan Schiller, John
McCabe, Lady Evelyn Barbirolli, Dame Joan Sutherland, John Amis, Michael
Kennedy, Dame Anne Evans and Richard Baker. Several of our special guests
have appeared through the good offices of the renowned broadcaster and
record critic, Edward Greenfield. Recently retired as Federation President,
he followed in the distinguished footsteps of Sir Adrian Boult and Dr.
invaluable support and encouragement has been continued by the Federation's
current President, Lyndon Jenkins, himself an established broadcaster
and writer and Music Adviser at Birmingham's Symphony Hall. Thus other
well-known personalities such as John Lill, Sir David Willcocks, Sir
Neville Marriner, Howard Shelley, Julian Lloyd Webber and The Barbirolli
Quartet have appeared at the Musical Weekend in the last few years.
In virtually every corner of the British Isles, Recorded Music Societies,
through their regular programming, support for live music, special events
or participation in Federation activities, are an integral but often
unsung part of our musical fabric. Countless individuals have had their
appreciation of music and the recorded repertoire developed by regular
attendance at local meetings. Furthermore, they have gained great enjoyment
from the experience, and have made friendships that, in many instances,
have lasted a lifetime simply from listening in stimulating and convivial
company. Whilst no one denies the enjoyment of home listening, the excitement
of live music, or the value of evening classes, there is a valuable
half-way house ...
Recorded Music Society
to our Home Page
for details of how to find your nearest RMS or how to form one....