Janet Beat


Janet Beat was born in Streetly, Staffordshire on 17 December 1937. She graduated from Birmingham University in 1960, with a Bachelor of Music degree. She continued her studies to Masters level studying early Italian Opera receiving the Cunningham award in 1962. Alexander Goehr provided her composition tuition. During the 1960’s she worked as a freelance horn player and teacher.

In 1972 Beat moved to Scotland. She took up the post of lecturer at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and subsequently established their electronic music and recording studios.

She is one of the pioneers in electronic music composition in the UK; her earliest ‘musique concrete’ pieces belong to the late 1950s. Beat owned the first synthesiser to be made commercially available in the UK and her early electronic pieces were composed on it.

The vast bulk of her composition has been written since arriving in Scotland and Beat became a vigorous presence in Scotland’s musical scene. She became a founder member of the Scottish Society of Composers in 1980, along with Thomas Wilson.

In 1987 she was a founder and director of the Scottish Electro-Acoustic Music Society.

In 1988 she formed the contemporary music ensemble Soundstrata, a five-piece performing group.

During 1992 she was visiting composer at the Meistersinger-Konservatorium in Nuremberg.

In 1996 she began to lecture in Music Technology for Glasgow University, where she is now an Honorary Research Fellow.

Janet Beat’s published scores can be bought at Furlore Verlag.

Unpublished scores can be bought at the Scottish Music Centre.

Unfortunately, it is rare to find her works on CD or vinyl.

One such work, which is available, Circe (for solo viola) written by Beat for James Durrant in 1974, is on the violist’s CD :
Viola Pieces Volume. 1.

When the audio journal Unknown Public was established as a quarterly magazine showcasing contemporary music, with each issue they provided a CD. On their very first CD released in 1992, Volume 1: Points of Departure, they provided an 4 mins 50 seconds extract of Janet Beat’s 13 minute work for chamber electro-acoustic trio Mandala, performed by her ensemble Soundstrata. This CD has long been deleted, and although a subsequent release of a compilation of their first 4 volumes has been released, Beat’s Mandala has not been included in this. View-Details

Another of her works from 1980, Dancing On Moonbeams (An Electronic Fantasy), is on the long deleted LP; Music from Scottish Composers Volume 1. [Catalogue no. SSC 001 from 1981] This is an LP released by the Scottish Society of Composers, mentioned previously. It is sometimes available second-hand on ebay or other record sites. View-Details

5 Responses to Janet Beat

  1. Janet Beat says:

    Please correct the entry on Janet Beat. There is a typo – she had tuition from Alexander GOEHR not the dead writer Goethe!!! [EDIT: Done – thanks for that, Janet!] Moreover encouragement from Luigi Dallapiccola and Michel Tippett.

    Janet Beat

  2. Janet Beat says:

    Please add to my entry :
    Affiliate of Glasgow University as consultant to the Hunterian Art Gallery.
    Dreamscapes has now been released on the Vox Regis label on a cd of Scottish Bassoon Music [see amazon]
    Janet Beat

  3. Dear Janet: Nice to hear from you. I hope this message gets through – I tried by another route, but it stopped midway! Anyway, it’s good to be back in touch. I remember you of course from your horn-playing at Birmingham University, where we both were students and I conducted opera. Since then, I’ve done a lot of work, writing books, making new arrangements of music, travelling around the world with Michael Tippett. After his death, I moved to Spain to work for the publishers Edicions Trito and I was involved in the Alicante contemporary music festival. About 10 years ago, I suffered a stroke. But the rehab in Spain and rehab back in London have worked. For I still play the piano to concert standard, I can conduct and of late I’ve added considerably to the number of ensemble versions of made of piano pieces. Before long I hope to return to the concert platform. I’ve had a lot of encouragement from musicians like Simon Rattle, Mark Elder, David Atherton, Nicholas Cleobury etc. So watch out! Anyway, if you’re in London any time, I’d be delighted to see you. I live at Flat 2, 2 Princes Avenue, London N10 3LR tel: 02084443943 mobile: 07950668847 website: http://www.meirionbowen.com email: bowen582@btinternet.com
    Best wishes, Bill

    • Janet Beat says:

      Dear Bill, Glad to hear that you are still working & well recovered after your stroke. I remember that I last met you & Michael Tippett when you were in Glasgow for Michael to conduct the RSNO. Later I joined the staff of Glasgow University where I am now an Affiliate. I’m still composing & had 4 world premieres last year in Germany,London, Glasgow & Aberdeen. The latter was a commission for the Soundfestival & one of my works was released on a cd. Also last year the Scottish Music Centre held an 80th birthday event for me which included an interview & performances. I don’t know whether I’m having any performances this year as I moved to the countryside with is off the professional music map. Moreover, I had a fall last year & damaged both wrists & upset a hip so I’m physically a bit doddery though still mentally alert. I’ve been looking up people I was at university with. Some names I can’t remember & most of the women will have married. Some have died but others are still here. home email is:j,beat816@tinternet.com tel O1555 663993 address: 5 Smyllum House, LANARK ML11 7ER

      Pleased to have heard from you, Very best wishes, Janet


  4. Dear Janet

    Good to hear from you – but I’m sorry about the physical ailments.

    I tried to send this earlier to beat816/btinternet.com, but it was returned undelivered. Emails. Anyway I hope this reaches you.

    I seem to have weathered the storm, so to speak, and music remains at the core of my existence. Looking ahead, I am hoping to launch a Tippett/Bowen festival. I told Simon Rattle about this aim recently. I said my greatest ambition is to conduct The Mask of Time, which Michael dedicated to me. You may possibly
    know that he himself suffered a stroke just as he was about to start work on this. But he recovered quickly and managed to finish it slightly ahead of the three-year schedule he had set himself. And it was such a success when premiered in the USA and then in Canada, that it’s European premiere, on the first night of the Proms, was the first event to sell out completely that season. Michael, of course, went on to compose two divinely lyrical pieces – his 5th String Quartet and The Rose Lake.

    I told Simon I want to conduct The Mask of Time not with professional orchestra, choruses and soloists, but with the Duet Philharmonic – a fantastic band of teenagers, plus student choruses and young, up-coming soloists. That way a new generation of musicians and a new audience will experience one of the great masterworks of the late 20th century.

    Simon laughed and said, “Get on with it!”

    And I will, I will.

    Incidentally, I recently orchestrated the accompaniment to Boyhood’s End. When Schott get round to publishing it, the great tenor Tom Randle wants to give the premiere and record it, alongside my orchestrated version of The Heart’s Assurance, and the composer’s own original versions of Songs for Ariel and Songs for Dov. Fantastic!,

    So let’s keep in touch. Maybe my festival can feature a programme of your works. Please give it some thought.

    Best wishes
    Flat 2, 2 Princes Avenue, London N10 3LR
    tel (mobile): 07950668843
    website: http://www.meirionbowen.com
    email: bowen582@btinternet.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: