David Smith (b. 19 August 1949, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England) is an English composer, arranger and musical performer.
After attending Solihull School, he read music at Magdalene College (Cambridge, UK). In the 1970s, Smith was a member of the Scratch Orchestra (London) and a participant in several composer/performer ensembles. The first of these was a keyboard duo with John Lewis, which played minimalist and systemic works by British and American composers (notably including early works by Philip Glass) as well as by themselves. Several concerts occurred at this time involving the following: Michael Parsons and Howard Skempton, a short-lived five-piano group consisting of Lewis, Michael Nyman, Orlando Gough, and Benedict Mason, and the People's Liberation Music group (of Laurie Scott Baker, Cornelius Cardew and others). From 1977, Smith played in John White's Garden Furniture Music Ensemble, alongside Mason and Gavin Bryars. Smith's close association with the music of White, Bryars and Cardew has continued ever since. In the 1980s, he was a founder and member of the English Gamelan Orchestra, as well as Liria. These were the first British groups to specialise in Javanese classical and Albanian folk music, respectively.
Up until 1977, Smith's music was largely minimalist. His style quickly developed into a highly eclectic pool of ideas, ranging musically from the abstract to the markedly referential, and which, on occasion, is informed by a political consciousness and commitment, reminiscent of the later Cornelius Cardew. His acknowledged influences range from Charles-Valentin Alkan, Charles Ives, and Karol Szymanowski, to Albanian folk music, Duke Ellington, Tom Dissevelt, and those with whom he has worked. His range of ideas is most clearly chronicled in a series of recital-length solo piano concerts, works which encompass an entire concert with varieties of styles. Many of his piano works have been encouraged and performed by John Tilbury.
Smith previously taught at Finchley Catholic High School, Kingsway-Princeton College, De Montfort University, and the University of Hertfordshire. His work with students has resulted in a large number of arrangements, particularly for tuned percussion groups, as well as performances of several works, including the following: various versions of Percy Grainger's Random Round, Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, and several works by Carla Bley. Other arrangements include a solo piano version of The Planets (Gustav Holst), and reductions for violin and piano of a number of Albanian works for violin and orchestra. He is a member of Contemporary Music-making for All, for whom he has composed works for large, flexible ensembles. These works include Murdoch or Fred West – which is best? Reconsidered, and Whiskies of Islay.
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Fractures (2001)
- "Dave Smith." Experimental Music Catalogue, England. Web.. Accessed 1 April 2022