David Blake was born in London in 1936. He read music at Cambridge, where his teachers included Patrick Hadley and Peter Tranchell.
In 1960 he was awarded the Mendelssohn Scholarship and studied with Hanns Eisler in East Berlin. After three years as a school teacher, during which time he composed a highly successful schools musical It’s a Small War (OUP), he moved to the new University of York as its first Granada Arts Fellow. In 1964 he was a founder member with Wilfrid Mellers and Peter Aston of the York Department of Music. He was made Professor in 1976 and Head of Department from 1980-1983. He retired in 2001. David Blake’s first commission was from the York Festival for his Chamber Symphony (1966) and subsequent important ones were from English National Opera for two operas – Toussaint (1976) and The Plumber’s Gift (1988); from the Leeds Festival Lumina (1969); from the BBC for two concertos – for violin (Proms) and for cello (Cheltenham Festival 1993) – and for Rise Dove (1983). He is also published by OUP, Schott and Novello.