Town’s musical society proved doubters wrong, new book reveals

Bedford's Musical Society
Bedford's Musical Society

The story of a musical society formed in the Victorian era and still tuning up today is told in a new book.

Bedford’s Musical Society, A History of Bedford Choral Society, written by Michael Benson, is the latest publication by Bedfordshire Historical Record Society.

Along the way there were those who doubted it would succeed. An article in the Bedfordshire Times and Independent, now the T&C, said: “No one felt very sanguine about the success of the proposed society ... the idea being that musical people were a quarrelsome lot and could not hold together for any length of time.”

But the society went on to prove those doubts were wrong and has since grown its membership and enjoyed success at the BBC’s Proms in the Park.

The book records the society’s 149-year history and it links with well-known musicians. It includes the BBC Music Department’s move to Bedford early in the Second World War and its support for the society as it re-established itself.

The Bedford (Amateur) Musical Society, now Bedford Choral Society, was formed in 1867, and has had a long and almost continuous history and is still thriving today.

This book records the characters who have shaped the society through the years, the varied musical programmes and the links with well-known performers and musicians.

There is an introduction by Donald Burrows, Professor of Music at the Open University and a leading scholar of the music of George Frideric Handel.

Professor Burrows provides a historical setting for the development of the society within the context of national musical developments.

Michael Benson has been a member of Bedford Choral Society since 1977 and was general Secretary from 2002 to 2008. Now retired, he spent most of his working life at the City & Guilds of London Institute, and was involved with the administration of technical examinations.

The book is priced £25. Visit