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Composers > David Matthews


David Matthews was born in London in 1943 and started composing at the age of sixteen. He read Classics at the University of Nottingham - which has also made him an Honorary Doctor of Music - and afterwards studied composition privately with Anthony Milner. He was also much helped by the advice and encouragement of Nicholas Maw. He spent three years as an assistant to Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh in the late 1960s. He has largely avoided teaching, but to support his composing career has done editorial work - he collaborated with Deryck Cooke on the performing version of Mahler's Tenth Symphony – and orchestration of film music. He has also written books on Michael Tippett and Benjamin Britten, a published lecture on the relation of music to painting, Landscape into Sound, and articles and reviews for various journals.

Matthews is Music Adviser to the English Chamber Orchestra and was Artistic Director of the Deal Festival from 1989 to 2003. His music is widely played in Britain and abroad, is frequently broadcast, and dozens of his works are available on CD, with a number of new discs available in the past few years.

His musical language on the one hand grew out of his English background and his special concern for the music of Tippett, Britten and Maw; but it is also strongly connected to the central European tradition, back through Mahler and ultimately to Beethoven. Matthews has been much concerned with working in the great inherited forms of the past - notably symphony and string quartet – and finding ways of renewing them. To date he has written five symphonies and ten quartets; also four symphonic poems - two of which, In the Dark Time and Chaconne, have been recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the NMC label. One of his most recent recordings, From Sea to Sky, features the Orchestra Nova playing seven chamber orchestra pieces (Epoch, CDLX 7189). There will soon be recordings of all David's string quartets, on three CDs, by the Kreutzer Quartet.

Matthews’ numerous chamber works include commissions by the Schubert Ensemble, Nash Ensemble, Brodsky Quartet, Brindisi Quartet and many others; vocal music includes a dramatic scena, Cantiga, for soprano and orchestra, premiered at the 1988 Proms by Jill Gomez and subsequently recorded, and a large-scale Vespers for soloists, chorus and orchestra for the Huddersfield Choral Society. His cello concerto, Concerto in Azzurro, for Steven Isserlis, was premiered in October 2002 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Richard Hickox.

David's Sixth Symphony received its world premiere to much acclaim at the 2007 BBC Proms in London's Royal Albert Hall. Terrible Beauty, a vocal and ensemble work for the Nash Ensemble, on a text from Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra, was premiered in Washington D.C. in March 2007. In May 2008 David gave a lecture, 'The Inspiration of Dreams', on dreams and the unconscious - what part they play in the creation of music - for the Institute of Psychoanalysis and the Hampstead and Highgate Festival. His 11th String Quartet was premiered by the Carducci Quartet in June 2009. His 12th String Quartet premiered in London in February 2011 with the Kreutzer Quartet. The premiere of Symphony No. 7 was heard in April 2010 in Manchester, with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

Further information on David Matthews and his works is available from Faber Music Ltd. London as well as his own personal website.

For details on David Matthews’ book Britten, published 2002, contact Haus Publishing : Haus link

David Matthews Compositions

- Arrangements:
--chamber, orchestra

- Chamber ensembles

- Orchestra

- Piano

- Solo Instruments

- Vocal / Choral


Norman Worral