“ David Matthews didn't think he'd be writing any more symphonies. But the BBC Philharmonic liked his 2013 Proms piece, A Vision of the Sea, so much that they twisted his arm for an Eighth Symphony. Not that it took much twisting. There's a tang of sea here, too: at the end of the heady dances of the finale, there's a tingling downward glissando on the violins, inspired by vapour trails in the sky over Deal, in Kent. This is where a friend of Matthews lived and died - and that remembered sorrow darkens the symphony's slow movement, giving weight and depth to its otherwise euphonious sweet song. The entire symphony, with its confident, upbeat opening, its striding rhythms, its lush lyricism and its effortless yet highly accomplished invention, sounds as though it was a joy to write - and with the intention of giving great delight to its players and listeners. “
- Hilary Finch, The Times, 20 April 2015
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. David spent three years as an assistant to Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh in the late 1960s. He has taught several private composition students and has been involved with editorial work, along with substantial orchestration of film music and music for ballet. he collaborated with Deryck Cooke on the performing version of Mahler's Tenth Symphony
AUTHOR. David’s books include Michael Tippett, An Introductory Study (Faber & Faber, 1980) and Britten (Haus Publishing, 2003), as well as a published lecture on the relation of music to painting, Landscape into Sound (Claridge Press, 1992). He has written numerous book reviews for the Times Literary Supplement and London Review of Books, as well as over two dozen articles on music, composers and art. In addition, he has written over 70 programme notes on works by composers including Britten, Elgar, Mahler and Tippett.
To celebrate David’s 70th birthday in 2013, Thomas Hyde edited a collection of essays: David Matthews: Essays, Tributes and Criticism (Plumbago Books, 2014, 320 pp.).
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 nine symphonies and fourteen string 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. The recording 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. String Quartets Nos. 12 (2011) and 14 (2016) were premiered in London by the Kreutzer Quartet. Symphonies No. 7 (2010) and No. 8 (2014) premiered in Manchester, with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. The Symphony No. 9 was premiered in Bristol by the English Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Woods.
Essays,Ttributes, Criticism and music scores by David’s friends, and some of his own essays.