David Lumsdaine, 1931-2024

UYMP is very saddened to announce that distinguished composer David Lumsdaine passed away on Friday 12th January 2024. 

David Lumsdaine was born in Sydney and he came to England in his early twenties.  He established his reputation with works such as Kelly Ground, Flights, Mandalas 1 and 2 and he soon became a sought-after composition teacher in the UK.  He held academic appointments at Durham, where he founded and directed the Electronic Music Studio, and at King’s College, London, where he shared a post with his wife, fellow composer Nicola LeFanu. 

Lumsdaine composed a body of strikingly original music, including Aria for Edward John EyreHagoromoMandala 3BagatellesMandala 5A Garden of Earthly Delights and Kali Dances. His love of western European music (Dufay, Tallis, Bach, Mozart, Ravel, Stravinsky) was frequently expressed through those works of his which begin as music about music. This tradition was only one of the threads which make up his music: not only the music of other traditions and cultures, but also the music of the natural world. At its heart, his music embodies his experience of the Australian landscape - the variety of its shapes, rhythms, colours and textures: the vitality of its creatures; its sudden violence; its sense of unlimited space and time. His passion for the natural world and its conservation expressed itself more literally in his archive of birdsong and recorded soundscapes, many of which are recorded on CD.

Married to Nicola LeFanu, composer, Professor at the University of York until 2008 and former long-time Chair of the UYMP Board, David showed unfailing support for UYMP.  He will be greatly missed by colleagues, students and by UYMP York office staff both present and past.  Composer George Nicholson writes that David was a ‘dear friend and valued colleague, and I'm sure there are many more old students and associates who will remember his unfailing kindness, generosity and wisdom. We will miss him very badly. He was truly a composer's composer, a great example to us all. Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh'!’

UYMP offers deepest sympathy and condolences to Nicola and the family.