David Matthews (5 March)
...who will be sharing the platform this evening with his younger brother Colin, also a composer, did not begin composing seriously until the age of sixteen (he confesses that, much to his parents’ horror, rock and pop music were claiming most of his attention before that age). Like his brother, he was captivated by the ‘Mahler boom’ of the 1960s, which led both him and Colin to work with Deryck Cooke on the latter’s performing version of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony. Britten, too, is a common thread. David began working at the music publisher Faber, and thanks to the Britten scholar Donald Mitchell, completed the editing of the rehearsal score of Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace. Like Colin, too, he studied classics at Nottingham University, but as composers they have very much followed their separate paths – one of the many ways in which this evening will no doubt prove stimulating.
Although Britten was a strong influence, it was Tippett, Anthony Milner and Nicholas Maw (David edited the vocal score of Maw’s opera The Rising of the Moon) who provided the impetus ‘to gain the confidence to write as I wanted instead of feeling that I should try and compose like Boulez or Stockhausen, who dominated the musical scene in the 1960s’. So he followed a path similar to that which Britten and Tippett were following, along with one rooted in the Viennese classics. He has written for a wide range of instrumentation, including much vocal music, thirteen string quartets and eight symphonies, also several well-regarded books, including an introductory study of Tippett, a 2003 book on Britten, and Essays, Tributes and Criticism, which gives a wide landscape of his views on his own music as well as that of others.