May 7, Birthday of Alison Bauld (b. 1944)

Alison Bauld is an Australian composer and novelist who lives in London.  Most of her work consist of passages from Shakespeare’s plays set to music.  Wish I could have found more about her.  The longest bio is on her own website linked at the beginning of this paragraph.

Titania’s Song

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May 6, Birthday of Victoria Bond (b. 1945)

Victoria Bond is a contemporary composer and conductor. She studied conducting at Julliard under Herbert von Karajan and composition with Roger Sessions.

“Bridges” Mvt. 4 The Brooklyn Bridge

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May 5, Birthday of Delia Derbyshire (1937 – 2001)

Delia Derbyshire had quite an amazing life. The daughter of a sheet metal worker from Coventry, she was evacuated during WWII to Lancashire at the age of 3. Very precocious, at the age of 4 she taught others in her class to read and write. At the age of 8, her parent bought her a piano, but she excelled in Maths and got a scholarship to Cambridge to study at a time when only 1 in 10 students there were women. Delia got her BA in math and music, specializing in medieval music. After graduating, she told career counselors she wanted to work with sound, and they suggested she work with the deaf. She toddled off to Geneva, where she taught piano to the children of the British Consul-General and maths to the children of the South American and Canadian diplomats. After returning to England, she worked first for Decca Records as an assistant sound engineer and then heard about the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, where she learned the art of tape splicing and looping and with the newly invented magnetic tape recorders, she recorded the sound of objects and through manipulation turned them into musique concrète.  She came to fame after composing the opening music to the series Dr. Who in 1963 based on a theme by Ron Grainer.

I wonder where Steven Reich, Philip Glass, the Who, the Talking Heads, and others would have been without her. At the bottom of these videos, there’s a documentary about her called “The Delian Mode.”


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April 24, Birthday of Roxanna Panufnik (b. 1968)

Roxanna Panufnik lives in London where she is a president of a choral society and has been composer in resident with the London Mozart players.

Zen Love Song

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December 31, Birthday of Daphne Oram (1925-2003)

Since July, I have been concentrating solely on female composers.  You can read about that in my post from July 19.  If I can’t find one born on the calendar day, I won’t post.  On with today’s composer.

Daphne Oram was taught piano and composition from an early age but turned down a post at the Royal Conservatory of Music in London to take a job with the BBC as a “music balancer.” There she began composing and pushing the envelope of sound recording and synthetic sound to create some of the first works of “electronic music.” Using tape loops, recordings of machines, feedback, tone generation, and manual manipulation, she paved the way for Steve Reich, Kraftwerk, DJ’s, hip-hop, electronic, sampling, and scratching.

She went on to found the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which created soundscapes for many of BBC’s programs such as The Goon Show, Dr. Who, and The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

She left that job in the late 1950s to develop “Oramics” a method of composing music by drawing and scratching on 35-millimeter film, which was read by photoelectric eyes and fed into electronic equipment to produce music.

Below are example of some of her works. One, Still Point composed in the 1940s is scored for for turntables, “double orchestra” and five microphones. According to Wikipedia, “Still Point is held to be the first composition to combine acoustic orchestration with live electronic manipulation.”

Pulse Persephone

Oram Tapes Volume 1 Disc 2

Excerpt from Still Point
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