David Matthews composer

In July 1990 I was staying at the conductor Norman Del Mar's house in Millook on the north coast of Cornwall, finishing my large orchestral piece The Music of Dawn. Each evening there were spectacular sunsets, and I used to go up on the cliff to paint them in watercolours.

The Music of Dawn is concerned with the sun in all its aspects, and I am sure that these paintings assisted the compositional process: the one above was painted on 15th July, and next morning I wrote the music you can see and hear, in its final orchestral form, on the website introduction page.


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Recent and Forthcoming Performances

13/02/2022  --  The current situation and performance update

Like almost everyone else, I have had relatively few public performances since Covid took hold, but 2022 will, I hope, see the premieres of most of the pieces I have written during this disquieting time. After three years work on it, I finally completed my opera Anna in November 2021. There are no plans yet for a production, but there was a performance with piano accompaniment at the National Opera Studio in London on 31 January.

For me the outstanding event of 2021 was the wonderful performance of my new arrangement of Berlioz's Nuits d'été for baritone and string sextet by Christian Gerhaher, who had commissioned it, and an incomparable group of string players. Altogether, they gave nine performances all round Europe. I was also delighted to hear my orchestration of Scriabin's late piano piece Vers la flamme premiered after 35 years - it had been a present for my brother Colin's 40th birthday, and Colin was there to hear a fine performance by the enterprising Ealing Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Gibbons.

20/04/2022  --  World premiere: Three Woodwind Studies No.2

Nicholas Daniel, oboe | Wigmore Hall, London

Work details: Three Woodwind Studies, Op.162

12/05/2022  --  World premiere: Fugues 9 & 12 (from Twelve Fugues and A Fugue for Hugh)

William Howard, piano | Fellowship House, Hampstead Garden Suburb

Work details: Twelve Fugues and A Fugue for Hugh, Op.156

20/05/2022, 2.55pm  --  World premiere: Symphony No.10: Regeneration

BBC Philharmonic | Conducted by Jac van Steen | MediaCityUK, Salford | More details

Work details: Symphony No.10: Regeneration, Op.157

03/06/2022  --  World premiere: Shiva Dances

English String Orchestra | Conducted by Kenneth Woods | Elgar Festival, Worcester Cathedral

Work details: Shiva Dances, Op.160

04/06/2022  --  World premiere: Three Woodwind Studies No.1

Emma Halnan, flute | St Mary the Virgin, Ware

Work details: Three Woodwind Studies, Op.162

20/06/2022, 2pm  --  BBC Radio 3: Symphony No.10: Regeneration

Broadcast of world premiere recorded on 20 May 2022 with the BBC Philharmonic under Jac van Steen. You can listen to the programme on BBC Sounds for 30 days from when it was first aired.

Work details: Symphony No.10: Regeneration, Op.157

27/07/2022  --  World premiere: Five Trees

Part of the Three Choirs Festival.

Joseph Tong, piano | Holy Trinity Church, Hereford

Work details: Five Trees, Op.163

27/08/2022  --  World premiere: Sonata for oboe and piano

Part of the Presteigne Festival.

Nicholas Daniel (oboe), Huw Watkins (piano) | St Andrew's Church, Presteigne

Work details: Sonata for Oboe and Piano, Op.153

30/08/2022  --  World premiere: A Fugue for Hugh (from Twelve Fugues and A Fugue for Hugh)

Part of the Presteigne Festival.

Huw Watkins, piano | St Andrew’s Church, Presteigne

Work details: Twelve Fugues and A Fugue for Hugh, Op.156

Other news

31/01/2021  --  CD release: A Vision of the Sea

24/09/2021  --  CD Release: Anton Bruckner Project - The Symphonies, Vol. 2

13/02/2022  --  News from the mixing desk (updated February 2022)

David’s Thirteenth Quartet was recorded in 2018, and will be finally released this year on Toccata Classics, together with the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Quartets. In addition to the customary four string players, the work features four singers and was written in memory of a close friend, Peter Sculthorpe. Musical Opinion (Oct-Dec 2018) described its performance in July by the Kreuzer Quartet, alongside singers Rebecca Lea, Jess Dandy, Will Dawes and James Robinson, as 'A moving tribute to a fellow composer and a searching addition to a genre which David Matthews has made his own.' Paul Conway goes on to call the Thirteenth Quartet a 'tightly written piece that covered a vast spectrum of emotion in a short space of time. There was quirkiness and wit as well as noble tranquillity in a persuasive premiere performance of great warmth and humanity.'

In 2021 David finished an organ piece for the outstanding German organist Hansjorg Albrecht, who is in the process of recording all ten of Bruckner's symphonies (including No.0) together with ten commissioned 'Bruckner Windows', each of which is related to a particular symphony. David was asked to write a companion piece to Symphony No.2, which Bruckner began on his visit to London in 1871, where he gave acclaimed organ recitals. It is called Meditation on the slow movement of Bruckner's Second Symphony; it was recorded in August 2021 on the organ of Westminster Cathedral and the CD released in November 2021. A film of the performance will shortly be available on YouTube.

24/04/2022  --  CD release: Elgar Reimagined


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