Becky Llewellyn Berceuse

Along with our theme of dedications and mothers, Becky Llewellyn’s quartet, Berceuse, offers an intimate lullaby of reflection, a glimpse of a moment shared between mother and child.

Becky Llewellyn (b. 1950) grew up in Minnesota and migrated to Australia in 1969. She began composing in the mid-1980s and studied composition with Graeme Koehne at the Adelaide Elder School of Music.  As well as her composing career, Llewellyn was a special education teacher and disability access consultant. Her works for chamber ensemble, orchestra, choir, and solo instruments have been performed widely in Australia, the US and UK.


Berceuse, or lullaby, was composed by Llewellyn in 1989 when her grandson was born. The inspiration also came from Llewellyn’s memories of herself nursing her own children whilst watching the moon setting over the sea. The quartet is scored for clarinet, violin or viola, cello and piano. The work evokes a sense of calm rocking – the ebb and flow of the tide against the beach. Llewellyn has paired 3-8 and 4-8 time signatures to create the sense of an irregular wave pattern. The lullaby melodies are set to a simple circle of fifths progression and sparse texture to allow the four voices to come through individually – rising and falling.

Berceuse, and other works composed by Llewellyn in the 1990s, feature on the CD Milerum’s Basket(Move Records, 2002). Berceusewas commissioned by Grahame Dudley for performance by Lights New Music Ensemble, who premiered the work on 20 July 1990 at Little Theatre, Adelaide University.

This work will be performed by Ian Sykes (clarinet), Lucy Carrigy-Ryan (viola), Clare Kahn (cello) and Benjamin Burton (piano) as part of our Songs My Mother Taught Me concert on Saturday 12 May, 6.00 pm at Christ Church Lavender Bay.

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