Full evening ballet for Bielefeld, with choreography by Gregor Zöllig, following the narrative of Ibsen's Peer Gynt and using music based on Grieg's incidental music.

Note : Peer Gynt

Peer Gynt

Gavin wrote music, as he has done with Edouard Lock, based on existing music, here the music of Grieg. In the end about 65% of the music comprised Gavin's Grieg-related work and the remainder was taken from other areas of Grieg's orchestral music. These were dovetailed in such a way that it was always quite ambiguous and at times even difficult to say where one stopped and the other started.


It hreceived a great public success.

11th Floor


This is another of the works that I have done with Edouard Lock that takes musical imagery from other sources and translate them into new work. In this case the music was selected from many recordings of music used for "film noire" movies, which I re-wrote for a quartet comprising accordion, bass, piano and tenor sax/bass clarinet. The ballet was for the Swedish company Cullberg Ballet and I had a very fine group of Swedish musicians led by LIsa Eriksson Langbacka, accordion.



Note : Pneuma


The music for Carolyn Carlson's ballet Pneuma falls into seven sections, following the notes that Gavin Bryars was given by Carolyn. These notes, and the titles, come from poetic extracts from Bachelard's book Air and Dreams (which happens to have been written in the year that both Gavin and Carolyn were born). The music falls into these seven sections, which have given ideas chiefly for tempo and atmosphere, but with a prologue and short interludes between them. These interludes are played by the improvising turntablist Philip Jeck, who Gavin has used on a number of works - notably The Sinking of the Titanic and The Stones of the Arch, commissioned for Steve Reich's 70th birthday and performed by the Kronos Quartet and Theatre of Voices, along with Philip. Philip's inclusion came at the specific request of Carolyn. The music is for a small orchestra with an unusual instrumentation: bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, two French horns, two trombones, tuned and untuned percussion and strings without violins. An orchestra or ensemble without violins is something that Gavin Bryars has used on many occasions, starting with his first opera Medea in 1984 and indeed his own ensemble has at its heart two violas, cello and double bass giving the music a kind of homogeneity, as well as great richness and resonance.

There are many photographs from the performancd at the site below:



Ballet by Edouard Lock for Sao Paolo

Note : The Seasons

The Seasons

The Seasons takes 12 small sections from Vivaldi - 10 from The Four Seasons and 2 from a cioncerto in G - and makes them into new extended pieces, that show clearly the source of the music but which take the music into new directions. The 12 sections are given the names of the months of the year. This is a Youtube film fo the performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxLqucgojMs 


 New full length ballet. Choreography Edouard Lock. La La la Human Steps (with soloist Diana Vishneva)

Music Gavin Bryars (after Purcell and Gluck)


Note : #1

The new project with Edouard Lock, which has no title, looks to the Baroque and involves a reworking of music from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, just as our previous collaboration,Amjad, took the Romantic ballet - Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty as its source. As Edouard has said, baroque musical structures tend to lend themselves well to contemporary dance and offer points to which contemporary choreography can attach itself, while avoiding period mannerisms. Our very first collaboration, 2 in 1995, had looked at a different area of the baroque, putting works by Rameau alongside music that I had written related to that music, scored for traditional and amplified harpsichords.

The music is played live by a small ensemble, four players, directed by pianist Njo Kong Kie, who also directed Amjad. The other instruments are viola (Jennifer Thiessen, who also performed with Amjad), cello (Jean-Christophe Lizotte) and saxophones (Ida Toninato - who plays soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, though I am replacing the tenor with baritone sax, as this is Ida's preferred instrument - and mine!).

In addition to the dancers of La La La Human Steps there is also a guest soloist for a number of performances - Diana Vishneva, the great (arguably the greatest) Russian ballerina of our time (see picture on Journal).

It opened in Amsterdam, January 5th 2011, and elsewhere in Europe until mid-March. After that it will tour extensively throughout the world over the next couple of years. See Schott Calendar on my web site for details.



Dance by Edouard Lock, after Tchaikovsky
Duration 80’
2 violas, cello, piano
First performance Ottawa April 20th 2007

Choreography by David Dawson to the Third String Quartet

First performance Dresden 2008

New version arranged for string orchestra,

first performance Netherlands Dance Theatre, April 2010

Note : #1

Reverence-Natalia Sologub & Ensemble (Photo Costin Radu)




Strings (solo violin, 4 violas, 4 celli, 2 basses)
Duration c. 27'
For the ballet by David Dawson
First performance: National Ballet Flanders, Antwerp, January 12 2010
Conductor, Benjamin Pope


Photo by Stephanie Berger

Choreographer: Merce Cunningham

First Performance: Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley California April 23rd 1999

Find out additonal information about the Biped album, released on Gavin Bryars' own label, in the discography section.

Note : BIPED (1999)

BIPED (1999)

Duration: 45'59''

Instrumentation: violin, cello, electric guitar, double bass, electric keyboard, pre-recorded tape

First Performance: Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley California April 23rd 1999

BIPED was commissioned by the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation for the dance by Merce Cunningham.

It is one of the first new musical compositions commissioned by them since the death of John Cage in 1992. Like all of Merce's work it involved a collaboration with visual artists, in this case Paul Keiser and Shelley Eshkar who had developed a very striking technique of video motion capture. In working on the music Merce and I agreed that we would follow the method established between himself and John Cage of working independently but towards a common goal, thereby avoiding any planned one-to-one relationship between music, dance and decor, but working to the same overall programme length, here 45 minutes.

Merce and I did exchange faxes to give each of us pointers as to the other's thinking, and I did see examples of the animation techniques which were to form the work's design. When I asked if he had ever spoken with John Cage in advance about the work's structure and form (how many sections, whether dancers formed duos, trios, quartets ensembles and so on) he said that he always did, but equally that John always ignored the information..

I had worked with John in the late 1960's and his work had been a key factor in my decision to move away from improvised music towards composition. Indeed, seeing the Cunningham company in London in 1966 represented a key moment in my artistic development. The very first piece I saw was a solo called Nocturne, danced by Merce, designed by Robert Rauschenberg and with Satie's five Nocturnes for solo piano played by John Cage. Merce wore a white costume, there was a white gauze behind which he danced, and pure bright while light on the gauze, behind it and in front of it, produced a stunning effect.

In BIPED, just as, with the visual element, there is live dance and its digital shadow through the projected video animation (curiously, like the very first piece I saw, projected on to a front gauze) so I chose to have a form of digital replication within the music. The live instruments (electric guitar, cello, electric keyboard, acoustic double , violin and percussion) being reinforced by their electronic equivalents. The sampled material is played by members of my ensemble, who are also the live performers whenever possible, with the addition of Takehisa Kosugi, the Cunningham company's music director since Cage's death, on violin and improvised percussion. The music falls into six (unequal) sections and is played without a break.

Gavin Bryars.

Choreographer: Laurie Booth
First Performance: Gardner Arts Centre, Brighton Sussex, May 6th 1994

Note : #1

Wonderlawn Suite

In May 1994 I worked with the choreographer Laurie Booth on a full evening piece called Wonderlawn for which I employed a small group drawn from my ensemble consisting of electric guitar, viola, cello and double bass (the same line-up as the revised version of After the Requiem). The suite uses four of the original sections of the dance score,  two of them being modified. The first movement is a prelude featuring the cello in dialogue with the viola. The second is a solo for amplified bass with effects pedals, shadowed by the cello. The melodic line in the third section is for electric guitar, playing without attack, accompanied by bowed strings. The final movement is an epilogue which starts out as a simple sequence of harmonies, arpeggiated by the guitar and reinforced by the other strings but which develops later into an extended melody for the viola.

Gavin Bryars.