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Matthew de Lacey Davidson

Composer, Performer

Born: 1964


Matthew de Lacey Davidson (b. Toronto, Canada; now res. Nova Scotia) holds degrees from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; the University of Toronto, Canada; and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has concertized in Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, with ragtime, early jazz, “classical” and contemporary music concerts. He has actively promoted the work of other composers (both as performer and impresario). His work has received radio broadcasts in New Zealand, North America, and Europe.

As a composer, his works encompass almost every medium, including text, music, and lyrics for a chamber opera; chamber music; improvisatory works; theater pieces; electronic and orchestral music.

Davidson studied piano privately with John Powell and Rae de Lisle in New Zealand (through whom a lineage may be traced to Franz Liszt); with Bruce Greenfield and Phillipa Ward at the Wellington Polytechnical Institute’s Executant Music Course in New Zealand; privately with Lawrence Pitchko and Harold Heap in Canada; and with William Heiles at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States. He has recorded for Stomp Off Records, Capstone Records, Navona, and the Mastersound label.

Davidson is the recipient of commissions and awards from Victoria University, the Queen Elizabeth II (New Zealand national) arts council, the American (formerly Minnesota) Composers’ Forum, the University of Illinois, Meet the Composer/California, and The Elgin Cultural Arts Commission. As a composer, he has been associated with the New York piano virtuoso of twentieth century music, Anthony De Mare; the Kronos Quartet; virtuoso violist Rudolf Haken; piano four-hand team Hourshid & Mehrshid Afrakhteh; and the Zukofsky Quartet.

He has studied theory with Alexander Rapoport at the Royal Toronto Conservatory of Music (through whom a lineage may be traced to the Hochschule fur Musik in Vienna), and counterpoint and computer music with John Melby at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States. His principal composition teachers have been Jack Body in New Zealand, John Beckwith in Canada (through whom a lineage may be traced to Nadia Boulanger), and Salvatore Martirano in the United States.

His percussion music is published by Honeyrock Publications in Everett, Pennsylvania. His work and papers are held in archive at the Alexander Turnbull Library division of the New Zealand National Library, and the Library of Congress in the U.S.

Critical praise for Davidson has come from such diverse sources as Gramophone Magazine (”...a remarkably talented a performer Davidson has few peers...”), to Steve O’Keefe in Cadence Magazine (”...this disk by...Matthew Davidson is extraordinary.”), to recording artist for Vanguard, Epic, New World Records and Omega Classics, Max Morath (”...his [Davidson’s] stunning premier performances... mark... this pianist for landmark status and accolades – adjectives for which one reaches for the Thesaurus: prodigious, consummate, mighty. Well – sublime.”). Jack Rummel in The Rag Times has said of his compact discs, “With his trademark leaps from pianissimo to fortissimo and his seemingly effortless mastery of all 88 keys, no other ragtime performer today explores the full range of the piano, both dynamically and geographically, as he does. He is a true virtuoso and his feats of his skill will amaze you.” Of his album Talencourt, hbdirect(dot)com said: “He has...achieved a fine reputation as a concert pianist...and...his chamber music experience has given him exceptional insight into the workings of solo and chamber string music.” Prominent violinist of the violinfutura project, Piotr Szewczyk, has described Davidson’s compositions as “...very charming, sophisticated, and very innovative...”. Lysandre Hamelin, writing in Musifax (the magazine of the Music Teachers Association of Quebec) states, "The work of Matthew Davidson is written with intelligence and attention to detail." Mauro Carli, in the April 2000 edition of ALIAS (N.17) has stated:“...[Davidson’s work is]...simultaneously complex and communicative, very original, and with a well-defined identity.”

“Que dites-vous?...C'est inutile?...Je le sais!
Mais on ne se bat pas dans l'espoir du succès!
Non! non, c'est bien plus beau lorsque c'est inutile!
Qu'est-ce que c'est que tous ceux-là! Vous êtes mille?”

– Edmond Rostand (Cyrano de Bergerac)

“It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled seas of thought.”
– John Kenneth Galbraith (The Affluent Society)

Composed (41)


for tape, 6m

After Brahms

for piano - four hands, 10m

Aliens disguised as Elvis...

theatre piece for seven performers


for violin, 13m 30s

Between the Lines

for tape, 7m 45s

Deux Plaisenteries

for alto saxophone and piano, 5m

Etudes for Piano Book I

for piano, 16m

Five Lithuanian Melodies

for flute and guitar, 4m 40s

Five Vignettes for Piano

for piano, 12m

I had five long years

for string quartet, 8m

Le poème inattendu

for orchestra

Magyar Rondo

for viola, 6m 30s


for piano, 3m 30s

Millet Music

for as many musicians as possible

Music for Piano with Orchestra

for piano and orchestra

Music for String Quartet

for string quartet, 6m

Music for String Trio

for violin, viola and cello

Music for Viola and Orchestra

for viola and orchestra, 15m

Music for Viola and Piano

for viola and piano, 15m


for piano, 8m


for orchestra, 10m

Nonsense Music

for mezzo-soprano and piano, 3m 30s


for piano, 20m

Quartetto dell'arte

for string quartet, 25m

Quatre mélodies québécoises

for piano and voice, 12m

Signor Grinderino

for tape, 8m

Stolen Music

for a flute player, 9m

The Apple Terrace Waltz

for piano, 2m

The Minute Passacaglia

for tape, 1m

The Owl and the Pussy Cat

for SATB choir, 3m 30s

The Singing Lesson

chamber opera in three acts, 1h 30m

Three Elusive Rags

for piano, 10m

Trio Sonata

for flute, viola and harp, 15m

Trois Oeuvres de Rameau

for orchestra

Zwei Motetten

for SATB choir