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David Heyes

Tony Osborne: All in a Day's Work for double bass quartet

Tony Osborne: All in a Day's Work for double bass quartet

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About the Composition

Commissioned by David Heyes in 1994 for the founding of the BIBF (British & International Bass Forum), this jazzy quartet has quickly achieved ‘standard repertoire’ status. The three movements (Kick-Start / Free Time / Rush Hour) explore a range of jazz styles and idioms, with great player and audience appeal. 

Tony Osborne was one of the most prolific and important composers writing for the double bass and his jazzy and rhythmic music remains popular with players of all ages and abilities. He has written music for every level of performer, from complete beginner to virtuoso. 

Tony Osborne writes: ‘All in a Day’s Work depicts three contrasting moods in a busy day. Each movement draws on elements of serious music, jazz and rock, and presents exciting rhythmic and expressive challenges. Kick Start is smart, business-like and direct. It is about dealing with situations confidently, making decisions, and getting to appointments on time. The second movement, Free Time, is a time for reflection, peace and unwinding, thinking of others and about a break from routine or a holiday. Rush Hour, the last movement, is a depiction of last minute developments or changes, and then the journey home.’ 

’Kick-Start was premiered in September 1994 during a workshop at Farnham Maltings (Surrey) and the entire quartet was premiered at the Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff the following year. ‘All in a Day’s Work is what bass quartet is all about: quick, jazzy, enough rhythmic interest to keep you counting accurately and it’s playable. It’s good fun to play.’ (Double Bassist) 

‘All in a Day’s Work is an exciting new piece to add to the growing body of literature, and definitely worthy of a reading. My own students recently formed a bass quartet ensemble at Miami University, and were very excited about performing this piece after our first reading. It has an immediate accessibility and energy that is contagious among the players, as well as for the audience – always a beautiful combination. The music is a challenge, but not too difficult for a college ensemble to have fun with and give a successful performance.’ (ISB) 

Born in 1947 into a musical family, Tony Osborne studied at the Royal Academy of Music (London) with John Walton (double bass) and Richard Stoker (composition), and divided a busy career between composing, teaching, and performing. A prolific composer and arranger, Tony's original compositions include works in almost every genre, notably Chaconne Syncopations and Wainwright's Ways for brass quintet, Celebration Fanfare for brass ensemble, the musical A Fine Time for Wine, a beautiful and dramatic Requiem, and many works for string orchestra. Tony’s music for young bassists is very much at the heart of the teaching repertoire, particularly his jazzy and enjoyable bass trios and quartets, and he had the rare ability to create wonderful music which is always player and audience-friendly. 

In 2001 Tony Osborne was elected an ARAM (Associate of the Royal Academy of Music) for his pioneering and important work for double bass and was a featured com- poser at Bass-Fest for over ten years. He was a very successful BIBF Composer-in-residence in 2002-3, was a judge for the British Composer Awards and a judge for the BIBF Composition Competition from 1999 until 2015. 

Tony Osborne died on 30 March 2019 at the age of 71. 

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