The English Chamber Orchestra was very sad to hear of the death of English conductor Steuart Bedford.
The orchestra enjoyed a long and fruitful close relationship with Steuart, who conducted the orchestra in countless performances and recordings, and perhaps most notably in the world premiere of Benjamin Britten’s final opera Death in Venice in 1973.
Steuart had a very close relationship with the ECO’s first patron, Benjamin Britten, and became of foremost authority on his music. Through his mother, Lesley Duff, who was a member of the original English Opera Group, he became acquainted with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears at a young age, spending summers in Snape. He began his professional association with them in 1966 when invited to assist in a recording of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and from 1974 to 1998, he was one of the Artistic Directors of the Aldeburgh Festival, and conducted a number of recordings of Britten’s operas and vocal cycles.
Steuart worked in opera houses the world over, including the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), English Opera Group, Metropolitan Opera, Teatro Colón, Santa Fe Opera, Royal Danish Opera, and worked with Heather Harper, Ann Murray, Margaret Marshall, Philip Langridge, Sir Thomas Allen, Dame Felicity Lott, John Tomlinson, John Shirley-Quirk and Dame Janet Baker. Equally at home in the concert hall and recording studio, he leaves a legacy of recordings of composers such as Schubert, Walton, Holst and Berkeley.
“Steuart Bedford, a very old friend of the ECO’s, was a tower of strength during the very precious period with our first Patron Benjamin Britten.” writes Quintin Ballardie, managing director of the English Chamber Orchestra. “He was an invaluable friend and colleague over many years of both the orchestra and Ben.”
Steuart died at the age of 81 on Monday, 15th February 2021. The English Chamber Orchestra extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed.