Born in Sydney in 1931, David Lumsdaine was educated at Sydney University and the Sydney Conservatorium. In 1953 he went to England, establishing his reputation with such works as Kelly Ground, Flights, Mandalas 1 and 2. During the sixties he was immersed in British contemporary musical life, and was increasingly sought after as a composition teacher. This led to university appointments, first at Durham (where he founded and directed the Electronic Music Studio) and subsequently at King’s College, London where he shared a post with his wife, the composer Nicola LeFanu. He retired from academic life in 1993, and now lives in York (where his wife is Professor of Music at York University) while still spending a large part of his time in Australia.
Over the last forty years he has composed a body of strikingly original music, including Aria for Edward John Eyre, Hagoromo, Mandala 3, Bagatelles, Mandala 5, Garden of Earthly Delights and Kali Dances. His love of western European music (Dufay, Tallis, Bach, Mozart, Ravel, Stravinsky) is frequently expressed through those works of his which begin as music about music. Yet this tradition is 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, the 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 expresses itself more literally in his archive of birdsong and recorded soundscapes, many of which are published on CD.