Betty Beath

Biography

Betty Beath
Betty Beath, Australian Composer and Pianist

Betty is a composer and pianist, formerly she was head of music at St. Margaret’s Anglican Girls’ School, Brisbane and taught composition and musicianship at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music Griffith University. She has produced much work in orchestral, chamber and instrumental music, art song and music drama. Her work is broadcast and performed widely in Australia, USA, the United Kingdom, Europe, Mexico, Japan and Indonesia.

She was born in Bundaberg and began her musical training at the age of three. By the time she was seventeen she had won many eisteddfod competitions and had twice been a finalist in the ABC Concerto and Vocal Competitions and had been awarded a Queensland University Music Scholarship which took her to the Sydney Conservatorium. There she studied with Frank Hutchens. Later she graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium specialising in piano and voice.

In 1953 she lived for some time as the only western woman, on the beautiful, tiny island of Abau, between Port Moresby and the island of Samarai. It was from this time in Papua and later New Guinea that her enduring interest was ignited in the new sounds and rhythms of non-western culture.

This interest was strengthened and extended in 1974, when she was awarded jointly with her husband, David Cox, a South East Asian Fellowship by the Australia Council which allowed them to carry out research in Indonesia. Since then they have developed a strong interest in the music and arts of Bali and Java and have co-produced many projects that are unique in bridging the cultures they have experienced.

Sponsored by the Fellowship of Australian Composers, Betty represented women composers of Australia at the 3rd International Congress on Women in Music in Mexico City and the concert tour and retreat in the State of Zacatecas in 1984. In that year she was elected to the Executive Board of the International League of Women Composers a position she held till 1994. In 1987 she was invited to take up a Residency at the North Adams State College Massachusetts, USA.

Betty has long been a passionate advocate for the advancement of both Australian music and women composers. She was, for many years on the Executive Board of the International League of Women Composers, she also held the position of Adviser in Music to the National Council of Women in Queensland. In these positions, she was able to promote Australian composers, especially through the annual Festivals of Australian Music which she organized and directed at St. Margaret’s Girls’ School,

Highlights of her career have been the performance of her Songs from the Beasts’ Choir (Rumer Godden’s translations of poems by Carmen Bernos de Gasztold) at the Carnegie Recital Hall and the Symphony Space, New York, and the performance by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Mills, of the love poem Asmaradana for the Music of Australia program during the Trade and Cultural Mission in Jakarta, AUSTRALIA TODAY INDONESIA 94.

Betty playing piano at her home studio in Brisbane.

Her Lament for Kosovo has been widely performed on the 27th November, 2006 this work opened the program of a Peace Concert held under the patronage of UNESCO in the Konzerthaus Vienna  and, most recently  by the same orchestra on the 1st November, 2010, in a UNESCO sponsored memorial concert tor the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Henry Dunant, held in the Festsaal of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.

Her orchestral works have been performed by The Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra, Bulgaria; the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Republic; the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, USA; The All State String Orchestra, Texas: the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, USA; Trinity String Ensemble, Toronto, the Frauen-Kammerorchester von Osterreich, Vienna,Shepherd School of Music Chamber Orchestra, Houston, The Camerata of St John’s, Brisbane and the Beijing String Orchestra.

Her work has been recorded by Vienna Modern Masters, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Grevillea and Jade and has been published by Vienna Masterworks, Publications by Wirripang, Wolfhead Music, USA, J. Albert & Son Pty. Ltd., ASMUSE, Allans Publishing, The Keys Press, Five Line Publishing, London, Addison-Wesley, Boolarong Publications, Playlab Press and Beath-Cox Art Enterprises. At the present time Betty is serving as State Adviser in Music to the National Council of Women of Queensland.