David Lumsdaine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

David Newton Lumsdaine (born 31 October 1931) is an Australian composer. He studied at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music (as it was then known). He moved to England in 1952 and for a while shared a flat with fellow expatriate, the poet Peter Porter, with whom he collaborated on several projects including the cantata Annotations of Auschwitz (1964). In London he studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music with Lennox Berkeley. In 1970 he took a lecturing position at Durham University. In 1981 he took a post as senior lecturer at King's College London. He is published by The University of York Music Press and Universal Edition.

In 1979 he married the composer Nicola LeFanu.[1]


Lumsdaine has disowned all works he composed before Annotations of Auschwitz (1964). His first acknowledged works were composed using a variety of pitch and rhythm techniques associated with serialism - techniques such as pitch rotation or permutation, and isorhythmic structures linking pitch and duration together. Central to all of Lumsdaine's work is the notion of 'ground', a term borrowed from Baroque musical terminology (specifically Purcell).[citation needed]

The orchestral works 'Salvation Creek with Eagle' and 'Hagoromo' (1974 and 1977 respectively) continue and develop Lumsdaine's personal take on Australian nature.

Lumsdaine's output also includes two other fine substantial piano works - notably the Bach-inspired 'Ruhe Sanfte, Sanfte Ruh' (1974) - and a considerable number of works involving electronics. His extraordinary tape montage/re-composition of events from the Durham Miners Gala 'Big Meeting' is perhaps the finest of these. There are many substantial chamber works, including the series of works entitled 'Mandala', a cello concerto, several song cycles and an orchestral fifth 'Mandala' (1989), another colourful homage to his favourite Australian landscapes and soundscapes. Shortly after composing his dense and energetic 'Kali Dances' for ensemble in 1996, Lumsdaine retired from composition, so that an overview of his oeuvre is already possible, unusually for a living composer.[citation needed]

The following is a list of Lumsdaine's acknowledged works:


1973: Meridian (percussion, piano, tape)


1968: Mandala I (wind quintet)

1969: Mandala II (flute, clarinet, percussion, viola, cello)

1971: Kangaroo Hunt (piano, percussion)

1978: Mandala III (solo piano, flute, clarinet, viola, cello, bell)

1983: Mandala IV (string quartet)

1985: Bagatelles (flute, clarinet, piano, violin, viola, cello)

1986: Empty Sky – Mootwingee (flute, trombone/horn, cello, 2 percussionists, 2 pianos)

1988: A Dance and a Hymn for Alexander Maconochie (flute, clarinet, percussion, mandolin, guitar, violin, double bass)

1989: Round Dance (sitar, tabla, flute, cello, keyboard)

1990: Sine nomine (alto saxophone/bass clarinet, percussion

1993: Rain Drums (4 percussionists)

1994: Kali Dances (flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, tuba, vibraphone, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass


1975: Dum medium silentium (SATB)

1985: Where the lilies grow (8 voices)

Incidental Music[edit]

1991: The Crane (flute, percussion, harp, synthesizer)


1968-9 Episodes (orchestra)

1974: Salvation Creek with Eagle (chamber orchestra)

1975: Sunflower (chamber orchestra)

1975: A Little Dance of Hagoromo (orchestra)

1977: Hagoromo (large orchestra)

1982: Shoalhaven (orchestra)

1988: Mandala V (orchestra)

1990: The Arc of Stars (string orchestra)

1992: A Garden of Earthly Delights (cello, orchestra)


1990: 2 Just So Stories (The Elephant's Child, The Sing Song of Old Man Kangaroo) (narrator, dancer, live electronics)


1966: Kelly Ground

1967: Flights (2 pianos)

1974: Ruhe sanfte, sanfte Ruh'

1980: Cambewarra, 1980

1994: 6 Postcard Pieces

Solo Cello[edit]

1992: Blue upon Blue

Solo Shakuhachi[edit]

1993: Curlew in the Mist

Sopranino Recorder[edit]

1994: Metamorphosis at Mullet Creek


1964: Annotations of Auschwitz (soprano, flute + bass flute, trumpet, horn, piano, violin, cello)

1966, rev. 71: Easter Fresco (soprano, flute, horn, harp, piano)

1974: My Sister's Song (soprano)

1982: What shall I sing? (soprano, 2 clarinets)

1990: A Tree Telling of Orpheus (soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello)

1992: A Norfolk Song Book (soprano recorders/flutes)

1993: A Child's Grace (voice, oboe, harp)


  1. ^ 'LeFANU, Prof. Nicola Frances', Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 24 Dec 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Gilbert, A: 'Lumsdaine, David', Grove Music Online (Accessed 7 July 2006)
  • Hall, Michael: Between Two Worlds: The Music of David Lumsdaine Arc Publications (2003)
  • Hooper, Michael. The Music of David Lumsdaine: 'Kelly Ground' to 'Cambewarra' Ashgate, 2012. ISBN 978-1409428763