More sadness: Tubular Bells man has died

I have just received news of the death of the English composer David Bedford. He was 74.

His biggest impact was with the Mike Oldfield album that launched the Virgin label in 1973.  Bedford orchestrated and conducted the richer-sounding album that followed two years later.

He also worked with Elvis Costello, Keith Moon and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

But he was an assiduous composer of modernist and post-modern works, many of them underappreciated.


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  • David Bedford was a wonderfully gifted composer and an all round ‘good bloke’. He leaves behind a wonderful body of work that has been shamefully neglected in recent years. When I asked him for a little piece to celebrate my 50th birthday he wrote me piano work far longer than would have been expected by the small fee. I am sad I never got to play it to him. His work with the PRS was exemplary and his development of music for children is unmatched.

  • David Bedford’s best music was supremely beautiful to those with discerning ears. The BBC seemed to think so in more honest days when music was performed on merit and not flavour of the year or favour of ever less musical Controllers.
    Bedford’s association with Mike Oldfield and other popular formats might well have harmed his ‘serious’ repute but if only his music could be aired we shall all see what we missed and will miss. The string quartets alone are worth promoting so people can hear genuine genius from David’s middle period.
    He was a composer whose integrity remained intact in mainline works from the rule of the extreme “avant-garde” through regurgitated tonality to his death far younger than I expected.
    I knew David, on and off, for many years and have recordings long since erased by the BBC — even recording a piece for the commisioning arts association. ‘Like as unto the waves…’ should have been broadcast but was not.
    Britain has lost a great composer who was unjustly neglected. My condolences to David Bedford’s family and other of his friends will be sad at the news. A star has gone from the Cluster.

  • How very sad. I recall as a young teen rushing home in my lunch hour, pulling my parents speakers off the wall and laying between them with a pillow for comfort and listening to Star’s End and Ancient Mariner in between bouts of Hergest Ridge and Ommadawn. It’s now wonder I am now slightly deaf…. David was a wonderful composer and even though I didn’t “Get” everything at first, being only 12, I loved his textures. What wonderful hours he gave me, whilst everybody else was kicking a pointless football I was getting a musical education….

  • If this is true it is sad news indeed made even sadder that up to this point the only mention of this news I can find is this place. All other sources trace back to this report. We seriously need some more verification b

      • Please, Mr. Lebrecht, can you write me, where David Bedford has died? I am czech journalist from Prague and i am just writing obituaries about him. Thank you very much. Jan

      • Dear Mr. Lebrecht, could you provide us with the link to that confirmation? The one site which apparently his official website doesn’t mention a thing but the newspage is offline / non-existent. I am not doubting your integrity whatsoever but when it comes to Bedford’s passing I find it puzzling (and sad) that really no one else is mentioning it.

  • OK, thanks to an online contact I was directed to this:

    Skip to the 1:33:00 mark (after the news) and you’ll hear the announcement from co-composer and friend Michael Berkeley. But it remains strange that this is so far the only mention of it and no written news item on the BBC site.

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