The Wire

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David Bedford RIP

David Bedford, the modern composer, teacher, performer and musical arranger died on 1 October of lung cancer.

Bedford's musical education began with his family; his mother Lesley Duff was an opera singer, his grandmother Liza Lehmann an Edwardian songwriter and Bedford along with his two other brothers played musical instruments from an early age. Bedford attended the Royal Academy Of Music until 1961, and furthered his education in Venice studying under Italian avant garde composer Luigi Nono. Returning to the UK, he wrote various pieces of modern composition.

Partly through economic necessity, his career shifted track, and he became well known in the rock world. Working as an arranger for EMI he was approached to arrange the Kevin Ayers debut solo album Joy Of A Toy (1969). He toured with Ayers in the group The Whole World in 1970 along with Lol Coxhill and Mike Oldfield, all of whom he continued to work with outside the band. Around this time Bedford played a role in the development of Prog rock by using classical arrangements, evident in his contribution to the Roy Harper albums Stormcock and Valentine. He was also involved in arranging Oldfield's Tubular Bells and music for Elvis Costello and Madness.

Bedford also composed his own works which often included audience participation, such as With 100 Kazoos (1972), or re-interpreted traditional choral structures as in Star Clusters, Nebulae And Places In Devon (1971).

He told Mike Barnes in The Wire 325: "There are signature trademarks in my work, which go from the most violently dissonant pieces to the simplest piece. These would be an interest in texture, an interest in a sort of peace and quiet and large scale textures, and changing things quite slowly but never less allowing for repetition."

David Bedford was interviewed by Mike Barnes in The Wire 325.