David Matthews composer

Books by David


David Matthews: Essays, Tributes and Criticism

Edited by Thomas Hyde, Plumbago Books, 2014, 320pp.
Buy from Boydell and Brewer or Amazon.

Following David's 70th birthday in 2013, this collection marks the occasion by beginning with all of his important essays and reviews to date. These survey the present music scene, discuss symphonists (notably Mahler and Sibelius) and focus on individual composers (in particular Britten and Tippett). By including extracts from David's journal and letters, Thomas Hyde's substantial editorial notes sketch out an accompanying biography. This is supplemented by extended memoirs from Roger Scruton and Peter Sculthorpe, and a collection of tributes by James Francis Brown, the Smirnov family, Robin Holloway, Colin Matthews, John McCabe, and others. The third part offers a critical forum on David's music, beginning with an overview by Malcolm MacDonald and followed by essays on David's works written by Arnold Whittall, Edward Venn, Geraint Lewis, Hugh Wood and the editor. Frank Ward concludes with a witty epilogue.

Read Richard Whitehouse's Gramophone review.

Read Frank Ward's article Seven Wines for Seven Symphonies as featured in the book.


Haus Publishing, 2003, 182 pp.

Landscape into Sound (the 1st Peter Fuller Memorial Lecture)

Claridge Press, 1992, 45 pp.

Michael Tippett, An Introductory Study

Faber & Faber, 1980, 112 pp.


Programme Notes

    See complete list of programme notes by David

David has written over 70 programme notes on works by composers including Britten, Elgar, Mahler and Tippett. Click here to request programme notes from David.



See complete list of articles by David


Roger Scruton

February 2020 ... Read full text

The order of the middle movements in Mahler's Sixth Symphony

January 2016 ... Read full text

Poetic Truths

Review of Lies and Epiphanies: Composers and Their Inspiration from Wagner to Berg by Chris Walton.

The Wagner Journal, 2015 ... Read full text

Religious Art in the Twenty-First Century

I want to ask a large question in a short space: whether it is possible in the West to produce genuine religious music in the twenty-first century. The problem is not a recent one, but goes back to the eighteenth century Enlightenment and the beginnings of Romanticism.

11 August 2013 ... Read full text

Robin Walker at 60

Tempo, July 2013 ... Read full text

Refuge in the Forest

Review of Jean Sibelius and His World, ed. Daniel M. Grimley.

The Times Literary Supplement, January 2012 ... Read full text

Birdsong and Music

Many composers have been influenced by birdsong. Mozart treasured the songs of his pet starling, even giving the bird a ceremonial funeral. David has always been interested in the incorporation of the natural world into his music, even including birdsong in some recent compositions. This lecture will reflect on the relationships between music and the natural world and how a composer can be brought closer to one through the other and vice versa.

1st July 2011 ... Read full text

Tennis with Gershwin

Review of A Windfall of Musicians by Dorothy Lamb Crawford.

The Times Literary Supplement, July 2010 ... Read full text

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

Review of the book by Alex Ross.

Musical Opinion, July-August 2009 ... Read full text

Renewing Musical Tradition

Paper given at the conference 'Redefining Musical Identities' in Amsterdam, 31 August 2002.

pp.79-86, Redefining Musical Identities, edited by Rokus de Groot, Albert van der Schoot, ArtEZ Press, 2007 ... Read full text

Lucky thirteen

Review of Britten’s Children by John Bridcut.

The Times Literary Supplement, November 2006 ... Read full text

Elgar's Falstaff: a Comparative Analysis

September 2006 ... Read full text

The Art of the Fugue

Expended version of a review of 'The Art of Fugue' by Joseph Kerman.

London Review of Books, 2006 ... Read full text

A Wistful Sophisticate

Review of The Cambridge Companion to Elgar, Daniel Grimley and Julian Rushton eds.; Elgar: Child of Dreams by Jerrold Northrop Moore; Recording of Elgar: Piano Concerto realized by Robert Walker.

The Times Literary Supplement, 11 March 2005 ... Read full text

Britten and Berkeley

July 2003 ... Read full text

Renewing the Past, some personal thoughts

pp.199-212, Reviving the Muse: Essays on Music After Modernism, edited by Peter Davison, Claridge Press, 2001 ... Read full text

That Intimate, Familiar Sense

Review of John Caldwell's The Oxford History of English Music, Volume Two: c.1715 to the present day.

The Times Literary Supplement, 19 November 1999 ... Read full text

The Music of English Pastoral

pp.81-90, Town and Country, edited by Anthony Barnett, Roger Scruton, Jonathan Cape, 1998 ... Read full text

Radical Angst

Review of Expressionism in Twentieth Century Music by John C. Crawford and Dorothy L. Crawford.

The Times Literary Supplement, 19 August 1994 ... Read full text

Titian's Flaying of Marsyas as a Metaphor of Transformation

The Salisbury Review, 1993 ... Read full text

A Distant Fury of Battle

A composer's response to Geoffrey Hill's 'Funeral Music'.

Agenda, 1992 ... Read full text

A Perverse Genius

Review of Schoenberg's Error by William Thomson.

The Salisbury Review, 1991 ... Read full text


Other writings

Two Parodies for my brother Colin's birthday

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The Shorter Lord of the Rings

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The Minimal Rationalist Hamlet

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