Don Banks

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Donald Oscar Banks (25 October 1923  – 5 September 1980) was an Australian composer of concert, jazz, and commercial music.

Banks was born in South Melbourne, and initially studied at the University of Melbourne under Waldemar Seidel, then moved to London where he studied with Mátyás Seiber. Further studies with Milton Babbitt, Luigi Dallapiccola, and Luigi Nono convinced him of the merits of serialism, which he incorporated into his compositional technique. Through Seiber, he gained contacts in the film industry, where he became a frequent composer of music, mainly for cartoons, and the horror movies produced by Hammer Films. Beginning in the mid-1960s, he composed a number of works in the Third Stream style espoused by Gunther Schuller, mixing jazz and concert-music idioms, and began a series of works using electronic music materials.[citation needed]

In the 1950s he was the secretary to Edward Clark, head of the London Contemporary Music Centre.[1]

Returning to Australia in 1972, he taught at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music. He died in the Sydney suburb of McMahons Point, after a long battle with cancer.[citation needed]

Banks's best-known works include the Sonata da Camera for flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, viola, and cello (1961); a horn concerto (1965); a trio for horn, violin and piano (also 1965); and a violin concerto (1968).

The Don Banks Music Award, funded by the Australia Council for the Arts, is named after him.


Banks is credited for composing music in the following films:[2][3]


  1. ^ Graham Hair, Musical Ideas, Musical Sounds: A Collection of Essays
  2. ^ Michael R. Pitts, Columbia Pictures Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1928-1982, p. 256 
  3. ^ Randall D. Larson (1996), "Music Credits by Title", Music from the House of Hammer: Music in the Hammer Horror Films, 1950-1980 (Volume 47 of The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series), Scarecrow Press, pp. 169–176, ISBN 9781461669845 

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