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Musicians in Bali Part Two

In the 1970's, Composer and pianist, Betty Beath and her husband, illustrator/author, David Cox, spent time in Indonesia to research the music, art and literature of Bali and Java and to meet artists of many kinds. Their research was funded by the Literature Board of the Australia Council and resulted in the creation of children's books, music dramas for children and a travel book; as well Betty set to music poems by several leading Indonesian poets and created orchestral and instrumental works that were influenced by her experiences in Indonesia

Musicians in Bali Part One

This video is a glimpse of Bali forty-five years ago, which was when composer, Betty Beath and writer/artist, David Cox arrived on the island with the intention of learning all they could about Balinese arts and artists.

AGAPO by Betty Beath

This is a recording of a recent performance of AGAPO by The Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Chen Yang and with soloist Anna Stoddart, alto flute. AGAPO, I Love, was inspired by a short poem given to me by David (whose illustrations accompany this video) and our shared fascination with the pigeons coming daily to our garden. They murmured 'agapo, agapo'... even pigeons speak Greek in our part of town. The music is a simple expression of their mumurings.

Two Songs for St Francis by Betty Beath

When Francis speaks of simplicity, he speaks of a simplicity that is complete simplicity and takes over the whole of life, and when he speaks of love, it is a tender, burning love. I think Susan Lorette Dunn and Gillian Rankine understand and express such a philosophy in this performance, for which I will be forever grateful. The songs are published by Wirripang as part of a cycle, 'A Garland for St Francis' by Betty Beath.

LAMENT FOR KOSOVO Betty Beath, Camerata, Queensland's Chamber Orchestra

I very much prize this performance of Lament for Kosovo. Camerata performed the work with wonderful sensitivity within the beauty and solemnity of St John's Cathedral, Brisbane. Due to the way in which the suffering of ordinary people, has happened, since then, in so many different parts of the world, I later changed the title of the work to Lament for the Victims of War. Lament for Kosovo was written at a time when we were seeing images on our television screens of refugees escaping war in the country then known as Yugoslavia. Long lines of people, the very old and the very young among them, struggled snail-slow across frozen mountain sides. They carried their babies, their belongings and the ones who could not walk, they dragged handcarts, pushed barrows. What they felt was beyond our imagination; what I felt for them I have tried to express in music, in the voices of string instruments. ‘Lament for Kosovo’ has been performed by a number of orchestras in a number of countries. Notably this work, performed by The First Austrian Woman’s Orchestra, opened the program for a United Nations peace conference in Vienna. The same orchestra, conducted by Christian Benda, was programmed in a concert, which was presented in Vienna’s beautiful Konzerthaus to honour Baroness Berta von Suttner, the first woman ever to receive the Nobel Prize.

1. River Mother, River Child 2. Boy and the River

These two songs are from the cycle of seven songs by Betty Beath, entitled "RIVER SONGS, which is a setting of a poem sequence by the Australian poet, Jena Woodhouse. There are two arrangements of RIVER SONGS, the first for soprano voice and piano and the second for soprano voice and orchestra. In RIVER SONGS the river is a physical presence, deriving its identity from water, currents, tides, light, mangroves, birds, ferries and people.

Prelude to Sleep and Birds the Colour of the Moon

These two piano pieces are selected from a suite of six entitled DREAMS AND VISIONS. The work was developed from an orchestral suite of the same title, written for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. In writing these I was concerned with colour and its use in expressing different moods and contrasts. The first piece, PRELUDE TO SLEEP, suggests that experience we often enjoy before sleep, a letting go of the busy activities of the day, allowing the mind to settle quietly, with just the occasional sharp focus on a particular thought. BIRDS THE COLOUR OF THE MOON is a more colourful soundscape and is a response to the images that came from the title; impressions of colour, freedom and flight, and slow-moving images against a luminous background. Published by WIRRIPANG, (web: australiancomposers.com.au)

A FOND CARESS, for baroque flute

A FOND CARESS is the title of a new work for baroque flute which has a duration of 3'42". I wrote this piece for Gillian Rankine whose musicianship and artistry I have admired over many years. Gillian introduced me to the baroque flute; it has a beauty and warmth of tone and a wide range of pitch...these were the influences which inspired the work. This recording by 4MBS FM is also a first performance of the work, which I was very pleased to hear in this performance. Thank you Gillian.

Music From a Quiet Place, Betty Beath

I wrote FROM A QUIET PLACE for Patricia Pollett. I very much admire her musicianship. In performance she and her instrument are as one. I allowed this piece to come from that quiet place in which there is response to the intuitive within. Another influence was the vibrating, infinitely sweet, sometimes robust and dynamic sounds of Nepalese Singing Bowls. FROM A QUIET PLACE may be described as a meditative piece. I hoped to create a work in which simplicity, line and tone were important elements and I see the piano, which is performed here with great sensitivity by Colin Spiers, as fundamental in creating harmonic interest. It gives warmth and richness to the musical fabric. The work comprises three movements, which may be considered and performed as separate pieces. The first movement establishes a dialogue between viola and piano, the second moves through moods of tranquillity to exultation and final serenity, the third is a joyful, animated response to the pleasures of life.

The She wolf

‘This recording of THE SHE-WOLF was made in the late 1980s. It was one of a cycle of five songs, ’Points in a Journey’, which was commissioned by North Adams State College, Massachusetts and had its First Performance at Smith House, North Adams State College. The work is a response to a poem by Australian poet, Jena Woodhouse. She writes about the strength and passion of her late mother.


'YUNGGAMURRA, River Spirit', for solo voice and piano, is my setting of prose and verse by the distinguished Australian writer, the late Patricia Wrightson, O.B.E. In 1986 Patricia was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Award, given for her total contribution to children's literature, the first time in the thirty year history of the awards that an Australian had been so honoured. In responding to my request for permission to set some of her work Patricia extracted the text I've set from her prize winning book, 'The Dark Bright Water'. At the time (1984) I had been making a search for material to set and I was very pleased to receive this text which Patricia sent to me; it is to do with spirits of Aboriginal myth and legend. Her images sparked a strong response and were also a challenge to me. Her work is subtle, mysterious and suggests the Yunggamurra as both river spirit and aboriginal woman. The text was a challenge I enjoyed, it appealed to the imagination and I was interested to learn and respond to a little more of Aboriginal myth and legend. This work is published by Wirripang Pty. Ltd.,


This work was commissioned by Adrian Hooper for The Sydney Mandolins. I was inspired by images of the brave sponge divers of Kalymnos, who risk their lives to harvest sponges from the depths of the Mediterranean. This performance by The Sydney Mandolins said everything that I wished to say.

A Little Love Music 0001

Three short piano pieces: 'A Loving Embrace', 'Let's Dance' and 'Dance... very slowly'. The scores are published by Wirripang Pty Ltd and are recorded, with Betty playing piano, on the Wirripang CD, Wirr024, THE MUSIC OF BETTY BEATH . They are also recorded on the CD BC04, BETTY BEATH PLAYS HER PIANO MUSIC, published by Beath-Cox Art Enterprises.

woman's song 0005

I enjoyed writing this piece which I originally wrote for my own performance and pleasure; it seemed appropriate then to give it the title WOMAN'S SONG. The tonality is based on the Balinese pelog scale and this, together with rhythms that might be used by the gamelan, reflects something of the colour and dynamic contrast often to be heard in Balinese gamelan performance. An arrangement of the work titled ALLEGRO VIVACE FOR STRINGS 'WOMAN'S SONG' was subsequently published by Wirripang (Publications by Wirripang, www.australiancomposers.com.au) and a recorded performance by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Toshiyuki Shimada, has been released on Vienna Modern Masters CD 3053. I see the piece as expressing energy and exhilaration together with tenderness and joy, the joy we may know in a celebration of life. Betty Beath.

PICCOLO VICTORY, Images of Colonial Australia

Description: PICCOLO VICTORY, Images of Colonial Australia, was commissioned by and dedicated to the Brisbane Baroque Trio and was first performed in 1982. In this piece I wanted to show, in a slightly ironic manner, images of the colonisation of Australia and to evoke some of our folklore. It was important to me to have the work begin and end with an Aboriginal theme, using didgeridu and clap-sticks as well as the Trio, to indicate the wonderful resilience of the Aboriginal race.

Heart Song, Lagu Cinta (Solo Cello)

HEART SONG, Lagu Cinta, for solo cello was commissioned by the late musician Gwenneth Sitcheff as a gift for her cellist son, Boris. It was a gift of love so HEART SONG seemed an apt title for this piece. Here it is performed by Louise King whose website can be reached on www.cellodreaming.com.au. I do love this performance and I very much admire what Louise is doing for Australian music. She performs and records with CARISMA, a trio of flute, harp and cello and appears often in recital as solo cellist. This work is published by the Australian publishing house, Wirripang.

Lament for Victims of War for String Orchestra

Description: Lament for Victims of War, Adagio for String Orchestra, was originally named ‘Lament for Kosovo’. It was written at a time when every day our television sets gave us images of refugees from Kosovo struggling in long straggling lines across vast, snowy mountains. Old and infirm people were carried in wheelbarrows and carts and even the clasped hands of their loved ones. Even without considering the rights and wrongs of the conflict, I was moved and certainly angered that innocent people should suffer in such a way. At the same time, my mother was suffering, nearing the end of life: it was a time for me when emotions were almost overwhelming. The first chords of this music came spontaneously and the piece grew quite naturally. Since then we have witnessed the horror of more and more innocent victims of war, people of many, many races and religions who are forced to endure hardships that we can hardly imagine. It seemed that I must change the title of the work to include them all. This work has been played by many orchestras in many lands. I feel gratified that it has had several performances in Vienna to open United Nations Peace Conferences and to celebrate the lives of such great advocates of peace as Dag Hammarskjold and Bertha von Suttner, the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. David Cox has illustrated this video, in response to the music. He too is filled with repugnance for the violence that causes so much suffering across the world and hopes that his paintings express some of that anger and sorrow.

Manusia Pertama di Angkasa Luar (The First Man in Outer Space)

Description Manusia Pertama di Angkasa Luar (The First Man in Outer Space) was influenced by a poem of the same title by Javanese poet, Subagio Sastrowardojo. It is one of three tone poems collectively titled JOURNEYS, which were commissioned by the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra. This recording was performed and recorded by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra for Vienna Modern Masters. The following is the English translation of the poem, which was translated by Dr. Harry Aveling and published by Queensland University Press in a volume titled Contemporary Indonesian Poetry. I have reached the edge And cannot come back. I fly in outer space Where day and night are one. Am empty sea circled by shining stars. Earth is gone and the sky flies away. The universe is silent. I hunger not But yearn for my wife, children and mother. The further they are the greater my love. What do I remember? Sleeping as a child near my mother In a dream hearing her stories of monsters Giants, fairies and angels. I remember story-books closed in a cupboard. I remember the rose Elisa Sent me in a letter telling of her love. And she stands at the window With Alex and Leo - our sons- Looking hopelessly into the sky. Trying to catch Sight of my craft, a piece Of my unrecorded journey. Is earth still as dark As yesterday was? What do I want? I want nothing All has gone with the rocket Into empty space. Yet perhaps There is something. Poetry Rather than the thousand promising formulae Which hurled me from the earth I love. The heavens are silent. The heavens are dumb. But I have reached the edge And cannot come back. A kiss for my wife, my children, my mother Regards to those who think of me. The universe is deep and still. I move further, further From the earth I love. My heart grows lonely Troubled. Mother, Don't leave me alone.

Lagu Lagu manis for Cello and Piano

I wrote this piece for Gary Williams in 1993. We gave the first performance in Toowoomba and recorded the work in 1994 at Grevillea Studios. The piece for me, as I wrote it was a reminiscence of Bali and Balinese music. I am presenting this video in memory of Gary Williams, who died on the 28th December, 2013. He was a fine musician and a valued friend.

Night Songs

For me the sound of the recorder is strongly linked with nature; sounds you might hear as you walk a forest path, the sighing of wind in the branches of trees as well an ancient and elemental images which come to mind. These two pieces for solo recorder have a quality of langour we might associate with the night; perhaps NIGHT SONG 1, for solo alto recorder is a song of the heart and NIGHT SONG 2, for bass recorder could be thought of as a lullaby. Sabine Ambos who performs NIGHT SONGS is a German musician who has won many awards and performs as both soloist and chamber musician with ensembles such as Camerata Koln, the Oslo Baroque Soloists and the Polish Chamber Philharmonic. NIGHT SONGS was written for Australian recorder player Barnaby Ralph for the instruments of his choice.

Lagu Lagu Manis

Lagu Lagu Manis, (Sweet Melodies) is a tone poem for orchestra and comes from our times in Indonesiia, in this case, Bali. We were there to gather materials for writing and the trips we made were supported by grants from the Australia Council. In Bali, my mentor was the noted Balinese musician, the late Cokorde Agung Mas of Ubud, to whom I dedicate this work. We, my husband, David Cox, and I, have collaborated on many works, and he has provided the artwork and has designed this video. Many of the drawings were done in Bali and the music was influenced by gamelan performance and dance that I witnessed at 'Menara', the home of Cokorde Mas.

Didgeridu and Earth Spirit

I was invited by the Australian Music Centre, in 1991,to write a short work to be presented as the award for the 'Most Distinguished Contribution in the Presentation of Australian Music by and Overseas Individual'. The piece I wrote was 'Didgeridu' and the award was made to the English pianist, Sally Mays. The work is, of course, influenced by the sounds and rhythms of the ancient instrument of the indigenous Australians. 'Earth Spirit' has been extracted from a cycle of piano works, 'Dreams and Visions' It is the fourth work in the cycle of six pieces. 'Earth Spirit' has fundamental connections with the earth and, in it rhythm and motive material, has influences derived from Aboriginal song. The work is published by Wirripang and is included on a cd 'Betty Beath plays her own piano music ' CD BC04.

The Puppet Maker

For a long time I had been drawn to the poetry of Subagio Sastrowardoyo. I never did meet him but we exchanged letters. I love the imagination and simplicity in his writing and also his direct approach. Dr. Harry Aveling, in his translation, captures all of these qualities. The Puppet Maker' is a song for voice and piano that I originally scored for voice and orchestra. In that form it was titled 'Genesis,' and was part of a cycle, "Gambar Gambar Jawa", commissioned by the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and performed as part of their 50th year Anniversary celebrations in concert on the 10th August, 2007.


"Asmaradana", a Javanese song form reserved for themes of heroic or tragic love, originates from the courtly life and music of Central Java. Already established by the eleventh century, it endures even today as a well-loved form of expression. My interest in this was awakened during several visits to Indonesia, which I made with my husband David Cox, in the 1970's and 80's. Originally this piece was a setting of the poem "Asmaradana" by the very influential Indonesian poet Goenawan Mohamad translated by Dr. Harry Aveling. I later wrote the work as a piano solo; this orchestral version was written for performance by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Mills, for the Music of Australia program, which took place during the Trade and Cultural Mission in Jakarta, AUSTRALIA TODAY INDONESIA '94. The piano version is published by Wirripang Pty. Ltd., and this orchestral version has been recorded by Vienna Modern Masters. In this story, from the poem by Goenawan Mohamad, Damarwulan farewells his love Anjasmara as he leaves to join in battle and meet his death as various omens predict.

The Purest Love - Il Poverello

Selections from the first performance of the forty-five minute music drama, IL POVERELLO, which was performed in St John's Cathedral, Brisbane, October 1st 2010.The work was commissioned by MANDOLINS IN BRISBANE. The program notes describe the work as: 'A wonderful sound-scape that animates the fascinating character of St Francis. Betty Beath and Davd Cox have explored Francis, the person, and his message of love and peace, his affinity with nature and his devotion to simplicity of life.'

Music for Gillian

Music for Gillian was written for the flautist, Gillian Rankine in 1988. There is constant dialogue between the alto flute and piano. It was originally recorded for and programmed on 'River Songs' JAD CD 1026. The score is published by Wirripang.

Lament for Kosovo (piano)

Betty Beath plays her own work: LAMENT FOR KOSOVO. Sheet music is published by Wirripang, Website: www.australiancomposers.com.au At the time of writing this work feelings of deep sadness and anger were uppermost in my heart and mind. I wrote the work for piano and later developed it for string orchestra. The Lament expresses sorrow for the suffering of all innocent people caught up in war and destruction. Hope is expressed in the coda and reflects a conviction that there are continuing opportunities to restore those conditions which enrich our lives.

In this Garden

An early song cycle by Betty Beath, 'In This Garden' is sung by Susan Lorette Dunn one of Betty' oldest friends and colleagues, who teaches at The Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, Houston. Text, illustration and design are by author/artist, David Cox, The words and music were inspired by Betty and David's own garden in Australia. Published by Wirripang Pty Ltd. Included on CD, Music of Betty Beath Wir024.

Nawang Wulan, Guardian of the Earth and Rice

Nawang Wulan, Guardian of the Earth and Rice (1980) voice and piano. According to Javanese legend, Nawang Wulan was a heavenly nymph whose wings were stolen one day while she was bathing. She was compelled to live on earth and to marry Joko Tarub to whom she bore a child. When eventually, she found her wings she returned to heaven, but she promised to come again whenever the child might need her help. In this poem Subagio Sastrowardojo gives her a more general protective role as the guardian of the earth and rice. I love the writing of Sastrowardojo and this was a reason I decided to set the original text which was Bahasa Indonesia. Betty Beath.

Merindu Bali

Merindu Bali is published by Wirripang Pty Ltd 18/106 Corrimal Street Wollongong NSW 2500 Australia Indonesian pianist and composer, Ananda Sukarlan, commissioned composers from around the world to contribute to a memorial project by writing pieces in memory of the victims of the devastating Bali bombing, 12th October, 2002.

Fratelli Minori

Fratelli Minori is extracted from POVERELLO, a 45 minute music theatre piece with music by Betty Beath, text and visuals by David Cox, commissioned by Mandolins in Brisbane and premiered in St Johns Cathedral, Brisbane, Australia, October 1st 2010. In this video, a recording from the first performance, the Alexandra chorale combine with Franciscan friars as they enter the cathedral and move along the central aisle, singing Fratelli Minori, a walking meditation. POVERELLO, performed by the Queensland Mandolin Orchestra, instrumental ensemble, Alexandra Chorale, soloists and narrator was conducted by Nathan Aspinall. Recorded by Lodestar.