Dafydd Bullock





Dafydd Bullock was born in 1953 in Llanberis, Gwynedd, Cymru (Wales). A composer, conductor, arranger and teacher, he graduated in Music (University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music, 1971 - 1976) where he studied with George Hadjinikos, and took a Master's Degree in International Relations (University of Sussex, 1981 - 1983). In 1993 and 1994 he won first prizes at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and in 1995 he was honoured in Wales by admission to the highest Order of the Gorsedd of Bards. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2005.

His compositions include 36 Symphonies, 19 Symphonic Poems, 2 Operas, 2 Requiems, 2 Mass settings, a Missa Brevis, an Oratorio, 36 String Quartets, 9 Trios and other chamber music and many songs and pieces for piano. He has written scores for 2 films.

Works have been published in the British Isles by Cwmni Gwynn, Curiad and Bardic Edition, in Belgium by Alain Van Kerckhoven Editeur, in the USA and in Luxembourg by Luxembourg Music Publishers, Music Enterprise and Double You. He has made 41 CDs to date, with SAIN (Wales), AVK (Belgium) and LakeSound. His music has been performed and broadcast in many countries, including Japan, China, Brazil and Colombia as well as widely within Europe.

Dafydd Bullock has a particular relationship with Prague: his Second Symphony was given its world premiere by Musici de Praga during the 1996 Prague Spring Festival and the Third Symphony, again in Prague, on St. Valentine's Day, 1997. The third and fourth String Quartets were also recorded in Prague (Becher Quartet) as were the complete works for Cello and Piano (Jindrich Ptacek) and five Trios. Virtuosi di Basso, the twelve solo celli of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra have recorded and performed music especially written for them. In 2008 and 2009 he premiered his Requiem for Jan Palach in Luxembourg and in Prague.



What does music mean to you personally?

Everything. Without music, what’s the point?

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

Life is all about fantasy, music is about reality. Echoes and Premonitions: some thoughts about Music Far more than just notes and activity, which in themselves are meaningless, music is the underlying universal reality. The notes and activity, upon which we concentrate, are fundamentally irrelevant and mere surface ripples which distract from the greater depths of a profounder and more important dimension. I write ‘Echoes and Premonitions’ because, to me, music is increasingly and ever more urgently an ever-present and highly focussed precondition for life, a process of receptivity and focussed awareness. Music is beyond time, timeless. Its notes, sounds, stylistic characteristics and manifestations do not really matter. Music is the substance of that place or condition from which we all have come and to which we will all return. Whether composer, player or listener, in music we may resonate with the eternal. Composers do not really invent, or create. They simply have a more developed capacity, or inclination, to tune in and re-transmit, in as much as they can, a smallest hint of this greater reality, for some of the time at least. Truth is approached through resonance and empathy. There is one song …..

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

A historian, a journalist, a politician? Something to pass the time.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Not at all. Everyone will still need to seek focus and meaning.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

The same as it always has been. A means of enabling perception. Or failing that, entertainment and distraction.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

‘More creative’?! Without creativity there is no music, just notes and technique for their own sake. The musical process must by definition be creative, there is no difference. Machines can make sound patterns. Music comes from somewhere else.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

Offer something which is true and which communicates. People are not stupid, mostly, and don’t need marketing gimmicks. Your channel is the best example of how to offer truth and communication.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

About composition … The most important activity is … to wait, and not to compose just for its own sake. Maybe for months, nothing happens. This is normal. But suddenly, one day, perhaps at a very inconvenient moment, an idea comes, or the idea of an idea, maybe nothing concrete. The countdown has started, and I know it’s time to start composing – usually a fragment of a theme, a chord or a rhythm, maybe just a couple of seconds. Then the explosion, and within a couple of days I can have a four movement work. The ideas generate themselves so quickly there is no time to write them down properly, so I use codes, arrows, anything! Nobody else can read this! The next stage is to put the piece away for several weeks, and then come back to the half-forgotten sketches with freshness and objectivity. At this point the work is constructed … and the waiting can begin again! One of my favourite pieces is my Prague Serenade, one of my happiest works, but written in a rage having arrived home from a recording session in Prague to discover that my luggage, including scores, had been lost by the airline. I didn’t even take my coat off, I just wrote and wrote (and the luggage was found and returned a few days later.)

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Listen often, and randomly, and be open to discovery and surprise. Forget about ‘I ought to listen to’ or ‘I must improve’ etc etc. I discovered music when searching for the Beatles and hitting upon Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata instead. It knocked me out. My ‘road to Damascus’ moment!

Do you think about the audience when composing?


What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

In terms of composing, there are no projects as such. I just wait for the need to arise, internally or externally. Every project is by definition an experiment. My next activity is a piano recital of my music which I will play in Palma, Mallorca next week.