David Bedford was an English composer and musician who wrote and played popular and classical music.

David Bedford studied music at the Royal Academy of Music under Lennox Berkeley, and later in Venice under Luigi Nono. His studies and early influences included the work of Nono, Paul Hindemith, Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern.

Through the late 60’s and early 70’s he played keyboards, accordion, marimbaphone and guitar with Kevin Ayers and collaborated with the group’s saxophonist Lol Coxhill – forming the Coxhill-Bedford Duo releasing old vaudeville and British music hall songs for John Peel’s Dandelion Records.

In 1972 he released ‘Nurses Song with Elephants’ – an album of his own compositions, and in 1975 began a long standing collaborative partnership with Mike Oldfield, orchestrating and conducting “The Orchestral Tubular Bells album”. This association with Oldfield led to a record contract to make a number of albums for Virgin, some using orchestral players; others featuring Bedford’s keyboards, and some include Oldfield as a featured performer.

Bedford worked with a wide variety of other artists such as A-ha, Billy Bragg, Camel, Elvis Costello, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Madness, Andy Summers, Alan White (drummer for Yes), Robert Wyatt and several Roy Harper projects including the 1971 four-song album Stormcock which also featured Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page (credited as S. Flavius Mercurius for contractual reasons) on guitar.

He was a founding Trustee of the PRS for Music Foundation, which supports the composition of new pieces. In 2012 they announced the David Bedford Music Education Award to be given four times a year to exceptional music education projects involving composers and new music.

Alongside popular and commercial work Bedford also wrote many avant-garde classical works including pieces that combine skilled and unskilled musicians.100 Kazoos (1971), for instance, brings together an instrumental ensemble and audience invited to play kazoos. Seascapes (1986) combines a full symphony orchestra with school children, and Stories from the Dreamtime (1991) is written for 40 deaf children and orchestra.

He wrote a large amount of educational music for children often employing unconventional notation and the use of graphics – allowing his works to be performed by children and others who cannot read conventional notation.

About this Contributor

Given name
Family name
Contributor type
Minutes created
Collection 3 #3

Minutes by David Bedford