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Bedford shortlisted for British Composer Awards

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 25 October 2016

Luke Bedford (c) Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, Manu Theobald

“Ideas in this piece are torn apart by a strange energy and reform in new, dynamic relationships. There is a constant tension between growing and collapsing. That which seems durable can vanish in an instant.” (Luke Bedford on Instability)

Congratulations! Luke Bedford’s Instability for large orchestra has been shortlisted for this year's British Composer Award. We’ve uploaded the full study score for you:

View the score of Instability

Through His Teeth in Freiburg

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 10 August 2016

Through His Teeth (c) Klaus Simon

Can this be the best British opera in years? (Anne Ozorio, Opera Today, 09.04.2014)

Conductor Klaus Simon sent us this photograph from the first rehearsals of Luke Bedford’s opera Through His Teeth. In the picture: Sirin Kilic, Georg Gädker and Siri Karoline Thornhill.

The German première of Luke Bedford’s highly acclaimed work will take place on 8 October at the E-Werk in Freiburg.

Luke Bedford, composer (c) Universal EditionThree years ago, in June 2013 we conducted a video interview with Bedford about his then upcoming opera. Intrigued by the composer’s words, we documented the work’s process of creation, providing readers with regular updates regarding the development of Trough His Teeth, ranging from the composing of the score and the writing of David Harrower’s libretto to the actual printing of the score and its production.

Find out more on our Through His Teeth blog

Bedford nominated for The Times Breakthrough Award

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 May 2015

Luke Bedford (c) Universal Edition, Eric Marinitsch

As taut as a thriller and with a sparse, creepy score that fitted the story like a glove, Through His Teeth was acclaimed as one of the 21st century’s most gripping new chamber operas. Bedford isn’t yet “the next Benjamin Britten”, but if he produces a few more works of that quality, he could be. (Richard Morrison)

Congratulations to Luke Bedford for having been nominated for The Times Breakthrough Award.

Find out more on The Times.

Over the course of the production of Through His Teeth, we ran an accompanying blog:

Through His Teeth blog

CHROMA premières Bedford

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 10 December 2014

CHROMA; Luke Bedford: Falling Falling

Luke Bedford’s Falling Falling for clarinet, horn, violin and violoncello will be premièred on 14 December by CHROMA, who commissioned the piece.

Find out more about Luke Bedford.

Luke Bedford on stages of composing:

Luke Bedford: Falling Falling
for clarinet, horn, violin and violoncello | 4'
world prem. 14.12.2014, Kings Arms, Berkhamsted; CHROMA

Bedford and Fennessy shortlisted for the British Composer Awards

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 21 October 2014

British Composer Awards

Congratulations to Luke Bedford, David Fennessy and Harrison Birtwistle, who have all been shortlisted for the 2014 British Composer Awards.

Bedford’s shortlisted single-movement work Renewal was premièred on 22 May at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Sian Edwards conducted the London Sinfonietta.

The composer on Renewal:

“Renewal is about creating something new from the rubble of each previous section. The piece is a celebration of renewal and regrowth, written in the full knowledge of its impermanence.”

Read the full text and listen to an audio excerpt of Renewal.

Fennessy’s Hauptstimme for amplified solo viola and ensemble was first performed in Huddersfield by violist Garth Knox and the Red Note Ensemble (cond. Garry Walker).

Read a work introduction by Fennessy and listen to an audio excerpt of Hauptstimme.

Luke Bedford: Renewal
View the full score of


David Fennessy: Hauptstimme
View the full score of


Happy Birthday Luke Bedford!

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 25 April 2014

Luke Bedford (c) Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, Manu Theobald

Happy Birthday Luke!

Through His Teeth, Owen Gilhooly, Anna Devin (c) ROH, Stephen CummiskeyAlso congratulations for the critical and public success of Through His Teeth: as some of you might know, Anna Ozorio of Opera Today even suggested that it might be the best British opera in years – find out more.


★★★★★ for Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 April 2014

Faust, illustration by Goethe“Composed by Luke Bedford, it will surely be produced by other opera companies in the future as it contributes both to what opera is and to the enduring moral tangle of Faust.”

Read the first review of Luke Bedford’s chamber opera Through His Teeth, which premièred yesterday at the Linbury Studio Theatre / Royal Opera House, on The Upcoming.

Through His Teeth #16: Rehearsals

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 24 March 2014

John Fulljames, Associate Director of Opera for the Royal Opera House, introduces the ROH’s A Faustian Pack programme. Watch John Fulljames and sound artist Matthew Herbert talk about the project and view rehearsal photos from Luke Bedford’s upcoming opera Through His Teeth:

Ruth Padel recently joined the rehearsals for Bedford’s Through His Teeth, which she describes as a “Faust without the supernatural. The evil is all human. But there’s lots of it: demonic sex, demonic fraud, demonic psychological abuse.”

Read the full text on Ruth Padel’s blog.

Find out more about Through His Teeth on our dedicated blog.

Through His Teeth #15: Shipping an opera

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 21 February 2014

Are they're off! The music of Luke Bedford's new opera is now on its way to London. We've added some photos to our Facebook page.

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Through His Teeth #14: Printing an opera

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 07 February 2014

We've added some photos from our production department to our Facebook feed:

View on Facebook.

Find out more about Through His Teeth.

Through His Teeth: video playlist

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 31 January 2014

Here is a collection of our interviews with composer Luke Bedford. Bedford talks about Through His Teeth, his stages of composing, the use of quartertones in his music, working with playwright David Harrower and gives insight into two scenes of his upcoming opera:

Through His Teeth was commissioned by the Royal Opera House and will première on 3 April 2014. Find out more.

Through His Teeth #12: Workshops

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 30 January 2014

In February and August of 2013, theatre director Bijan Sheibani, playwright David Harrower and composer Luke Bedford had two workshops at the ROH, in which they were working on the libretto with actors.

Luke Bedford on the workshops:

Luke Bedford (c) Universal Edition, Jonathan IronsIt might seem strange to have an opera workshop where there are no singers or musicians present, but from the beginning of this project I was clear that getting the text right was crucial before I started writing any notes. Therefore the workshops we had on the piece involved a few days working with actors and trying out various ways of telling the story.

The first idea was to set it all in one flat, where R had two women installed/imprisoned. David had written a few scenes exploring this idea, hints of which you can see in the final version of the text. And while this scenario certainly had intensity, it soon became clear that clamping the story into just one location was too restrictive. Especially when R had forbidden the women to speak to each other. This kind of idea has been touched upon in opera before, but we felt it wasn’t right for the piece that we wanted to make. Also, seeing the actors on the stage told us the mood was simply too dark: too monochrome. So David and I went away and thought about how to take the elements we liked from the workshop but find a better structure for them. After some work, we ended up the framework of the final piece: to focus on just one woman’s story and have a series of snapshots of A and R’s (and her sister’s) relationship, intercut with A being interviewed after the events.

The second workshop was on something close to the final draft of the text. Hearing how the actors read the lines was really useful to me – partly as they confirmed many of my own ideas where the key dramatic moments are, as well as the pacing of the work. And sometimes they would read a line or two very differently to how I’d imagined it – and this was also useful, even if I rejected ‘their’ way in the end. In fact, this has haphazardly evolved into a technique that I now use when working with text. I try and imagine the opposite of how I’ve set some lines, to see whether it works better than my first draft. Often it doesn’t, but just now and then it throws up something wonderfully unexpected – and it ends up in the final piece. One example of this is in scene 12, when R appears at A’s flat and pressures her to leave with him. My first idea was to have very dramatic, crashy, wild music. But then I stepped back and tried to imagine the scene with almost nothing happening and I knew straight away that this was stronger. In the ensemble, there are just six pitched, extremely high notes from the violin, and underneath the whole scene is the distant, otherworldly sound of a thunder tube.

Find out more about Through His Teeth.

Through His Teeth #11: “Showdown”

Posted on 13 January 2014

Luke Bedford (c) Universal Edition, Sarah Laila StandkeIn the 13th installment of our blog about Luke Bedford's new opera, Through His Teeth, he tells us about the latest scene.

“The scene I’m currently working on, scene 13, is kind of a bit like a showdown, although I don’t really want to use that word. But it is the sort of point where the various plots come together.

The scene is about five or six minutes long. It actually has a bass drum, which starts very slowly, but is almost imperceptibly getting faster over the course of about five minutes.

So at the beginning it’s only playing every couple of seconds, it’s just this very distant sort of thud. And as the scene builds up, you might become gradually aware of this kind of undercurrent, there’s something pulling you, as you move towards the key moment at the end of the scene. And I like this idea. A lot of the scene is very quiet, there are long pauses between what is said.

The text is actually quite short, it’s barely a side of A4. And this is something that is quite interesting about the pacing of things: sometimes you need gaps there, so that the music can spell out the tension in a scene.”

Through His Teeth #10: Scenes 1 and 2

Posted on 09 January 2014

Luke Bedford talks about scenes one and two of his new opera Through His Teeth

Through His Teeth #9: Chronology

Posted on 06 January 2014

Luke Bedford (c) Universal Edition, Eric MarinitschPart 9 of our continuing blog about the composition of Luke Bedford's opera Through His Teeth.

Did you start with scene 1 and work your way towards the last scene? How did you start writing?

I haven’t written the piece in chronological order at all, I didn’t start with scene 1 and finish with scene 10. I started at scene 9 I think, then I went to scene 2, then scene 1, and, having set those almost sort of boundaries of the piece, I then started kind of connecting the ones in the middle.

Also I kind of focused on what seemed to me the more important scenes. Obviously every scene is important in its own way, but some scenes are bigger sort of structural moments, or simply just longer. And I wanted to get some of those bigger ones out of the way earlier in the piece, so that if things became tight, at the end of the writing process, I wouldn’t be working on the very key moments, they’d already be done – so that was almost like my insurance policy.

Could you give us examples of such scenes?

One of the crucial scenes is obviously the first time A and R meet, as that scene establishes their relationship. Then there’s a scene in a restaurant where it looks like A is going to leave him, and you have to see his ingenuity, he has to come up with some reason why she can’t, and he has to do it very quickly. And he tells a huge lie basically, an almost unbelievable lie. But he does it in such a way, that if she doubted him, she would think “Well, this guy must be mad, why would he say this to me?” So she is in a way forced to believe him.