is being upgraded. Visit our new video service.

Gavin Bryars

English Born 16 Jan 1943

Bryars, born on January 16th 1943 in Yorkshire, first achieved musical recognition through his collaboration with improvisers Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley.  In the United States he worked with John Cage, and later associated with Cornelius Cardew and John White.  While teaching Fine Art, he helped found the Portsmouth Sinfonietta, famous for performing and recording classical pieces with minimal musical skill.

His first major work was The Sinking of the Titianic in 1969, a multimedia performance mingling found sounds with notated segments, which was the first release on Brian Eno's Obscure label.  One of Bryars' most well known works is Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, featuring a looped tape of a homeless man singing the title prayer.  Although Bryars has concentrated more on small-scale chamber work, he has also written operas (including Medea and Doctor Ox's Experiment), orchestral work and film music.

A wide understanding of sound is a feature of Bryars' working style.  The sound features of each instrument he uses, the effects of the performing or recording space, the particular musician he may be writing for, all are considered and taken into account.  He considers the planned use of acoustic space "just another form of orchestration".

Related composers: Cage, Cardew

Show more