Universal Edition - Luke Bedford – 5 Abstracts

Luke Bedford
5 Abstracts

Year of composition: 2000-2001
Scored for: for 14 players
Composer: Luke Bedford
Instrumentation: 1 1 1 1 - 1 1 1 0 - perc, hp, vln(2), vla, vc, cb
Instrumentation details:
flute (+picc)
clarinet in A
bassoon (+cbsn)
horn in F
trumpet in Bb
1st violin
2nd violin
Commissioned by: Commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society for the London Sinfonietta, as a result of winning the 2000 Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for Composition.
Duration: 18′
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Audio Excerpt

5 Abstracts

World Première

Location: Queen Elizabeth Hall London / Great Britain
Date: 22.04.2001
Orchestra: London Sinfonietta
Conductor: Pierre-André Valade

Work Introduction

In this set of pieces I wanted to set up a different compositional game for each movement that might lead the music down unexpected avenues. By imposing these sometimes abstract ideas I found myself writing music that I could not have written in any other way.

In the first piece every member of the ensemble has just one pitch, and so the result is akin to an object being constantly seen and re-seen from different angles.

The second piece consists of a monody that builds up to a sustained climax.

The third is built of three floating rhythmic levels at a very slow tempo.

The fourth, which is the longest piece, is based largely on seven bars of music which are constantly repeated, but with various different harmonic and/or rhythmic filters constantly changing the perspective of the music. This builds up to what is the climax of the whole set up of pieces, as new material breaks into the old.

The final movement opens with a long melody, which then mutates into a chorale built from the same material.

Luke Bedford


“Perhaps the most striking signs of promise come from Luke Bedford, with his muscular and acerbic 5 Abstracts.” (The Guardian)


“Luke Bedford’s Abstracts have an inexorable intensity, but the audibility of its musical processes present a sure way into its uncompromising soundworld.” (The Gramophone)


“Luke Bedford, still a student in 2001, supplies one of the most interesting and promising works.  Each Abstract is based on a different compositional gambit followed through with unswerving logic.  The frightening accumulation of material towards the climax of No. 4 challenges even the Sinfonietta’s players.  No. 5 comprises a monody which blossoms into a handsomely-shaped chorale and back again.  With their uncompromising schemata and dry but bracing invention, these pieces put me in mind of the very early work of Peter Maxwell Davies - an auspicious similarity!” (Classical Source)


“Three of Luke Bedford’s 5 Abstracts are presented here; two of the pieces being based around a single line melody or monody which in the case of piece No. 2 is gradually built and elaborated to a climax, whilst the melody in No. 5 eventually transforms itself into a harmonically related chorale. The result is both haunting and assured for a composer only just reaching his mid-twenties and who promises much.“ (


“Bedford's 5 Abstracts from 2001 was precisely plotted, offering indelibly vivid moments ranging from irritated rasps to the caress of a lingering violin line. In the final moments, individual instruments glowed and shifted, gaining color like a dark room being slowly illuminated.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

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