David Ellis, born in Liverpool in 1933, was a pupil at the Liverpool Institute before continuing his studies at the Royal Manchester College of Music from 1953-1957, a significant period in British contemporary music - among his fellow students were Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle, Elgar Howarth, Alexander Goehr and John Ogdon, who together formed the ground-breaking New Music Manchester Group.
It was at this time that his compositions gained recognition, not only through performances, but also in the form of commissions and awards: the Royal Philharmonic Prize, the Royal College of Music Patrons' Award, the Theodore Holland Award, the Royal Manchester Institution Silver Medal, the Ricordi Prize and a Gulbenkian Award.
From 1964 he worked at the BBC as a Music Producer, initially having the responsibility for programme planning and administration of the BBC Philharmonic, and subsequently also for the development of the orchestra's international profile. In 1977 he became Head of Music, BBC North, leaving in 1986 when he was appointed Artistic Director and Composer-in-Residence to the Northern Chamber Orchestra.
In 1994 he moved to Portugal working with the newly-established Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguesa in Lisbon as Assistant to the Director of Music and Chief Conductor, Alvaro Cassuto. He returned to the UK to devote himself exclusively to composition with time set aside for CD production work in a variety of interesting repertoire, both classical and contemporary - the result of his association initially with Naxos and ASC Records, and later with several important independent international labels.
Apart from performances by many organisations in the U.K., his music has been played and broadcast with considerable success in Canada, the U.S.A., Israel, Portugal, Denmark, Brazil, Australia, China, and throughout Europe in more recent years.
A new orchestral work "Desinent" has been completed, together with some shorter pieces - "Four Journeys and an Arrival" (for double bass and piano), Concerto Corto e Dolce (for recorder, viola and harp), "Distant Dreams - Forgotten Memories" (for violin and double bass), and "Parallel Shadows" (for double bass and piano), continuing his fruitful association with Recital Music.
Several of his scores have been recorded commercially in recent months, including the "Vale Royal Suite" for strings, and "Autumn Light" a newly-commissioned choral work for Alteri and David Jones, plus the Sonata for solo violin (1955) and the Sonata for violin & piano [composed for Wu Zheng-Yu].
The Evelyn Barbirolli Memorial Concert on 6 June 2009 at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, included the recently-commissioned Arioso Aperto ("The Open Air") - words by Richard Jeffries. Written for James Bowman, with ensemble accompaniment, this project has been generously supported by the RVW Trust.
Leon Bosch and Alison Rhind gave the premiere of "Parallel Shadows" for double bass and piano on 14 March 2009 at the Riverhouse Arts Centre, Walton-on-Thames, UK. It was repeated in the USA during June 2009 and performed again at the Lake District Summer Music Festival on 5 August 2009.
The 2009 RNCM/University of Manchester 'New Music North West Festival' included the premiere of "Pitfield Pumproom" on 26 November, played by the RNCM Wind Collective conducted by Mark Heron.
The University of Salford music series in April 2010 included the premiere of "Contra-Partita" in a version prepared especially for the Fell Clarinet Quartet. This will be released on CD, together with the Wind Quintet and "Two for Six", during 2014.
The 2012 RNCM/University of Manchester 'New Music North West Festival' included the premiere of "Two for Six" played by the Absolution Saxophone Quartet on 6 March.
Prima Facie has issued a CD of solo piano music including three works by David Ellis, performed by Panayiotis Demopoulos: "Seventeen or eighteen inaudible canons", "Moto non perpetuo" and "Four Studies in Six Parts" [PFCD013].
Catalogue items marked # are available in personalised CD format -
see under Contact
*Josef Weinberger Limited, 12-14 Mortimer St, London, W1N 7RD, UK
Novello & Co Limited, 8/9 Frith Street, London, W1V 5TZ, UK
Galliard, Stainer & Bell, PO Box 110, Victoria House, 23 Gruneisen Road, London, N3 1DZ, UK
Yorke Edition, Grove Cottage, Southgate, South Creake, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR 21 9PA, UK
Forsyth Limited, 126 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2GR, UK
Goodmusic (incorporating Roberton Publications), PO Box 100, Tewkesbury, GL20 7YQ, UK
*Lengnick/U.C.C.P (a division of Complete Music Ltd), 3rd Floor, Bishops Park House, 25-29 Fulham High Street, London, SW6 3JH, UK
Birnbach Musikverlag, Aubingerstrasse 9, D-8032, Lochham vor Munchen, Germany
Recital Music, Vale Cottage, The Hamlet, Templecombe, Somerset, BA8 0HJ, UK
*Scores and other performing material held by these publishers can be obtained from:
FM Distribution Ltd, Burnt Mill, Elizabeth Way, Harlow, Essex, CM20 2HX email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scores and selected audio cassettes are also available at the British Music Information Centre, 1st Floor, Lincoln House, 75 Westminster Bridge Road, LONDON SE1 7HS.
Select your choice of music from the Catalogue entries marked # and email the composer at:
- or, choose from the list of commercially available CDs below.
These items are obtainable from local retailers. In case of difficulty please use e-mail to contact the composer who will assist with your enquiry.
AN IMAGE OF TRUTH - the music of David Ellis
* ASC Records CS CD6
Vocal and instrumental works including "Dewpoint", "Divertimento Elegiaco", "Three-Note Variables", "Sequentia in tempore Natali Sancti" &c.
"These are clearly the works of a distinguished artist whose music exudes a deep humanity and honesty that repay repeated hearings, and are undoubtedly the most endearing qualities of David Ellis' music" [Classical CD reviews - Music on the Web: March 2000].
FAST FORWARD - string quartets by various composers
* ASC Records CS CD11
Music by Kevin Malone, John Casken, Robin Walker, Geoffrey Poole, Anthony Gilbert and David Ellis (String Quartet No 2).
CONTEMPORARY BRITISH PIANO MUSIC - John McCabe (piano)
* ASC Records CS CD3
Solo piano music including David Ellis (Piano Sonata No 1).
JOHN AND PETER'S WHISTLING BOOK - John Turner & Peter Lawson
* Forsyth Records FS 001/002
Music for Recorders and Piano including David Ellis (Shadows in Blue).
THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A BLACKBIRD - Camerata Ensemble & John Turner
* Olympia Records OCD 710
Music for Recorders and Strings including David Ellis (Elegiac Variations).
OLD CITY: NEW IMAGE - Camerata Ensemble
* D I Music - Campion Cameo 2027
Music of John McCabe & David Ellis (String Trio and String Quartet No 1).
HAT BOX - John Turner and Neil Smith
* D I Music - Campion Cameo 2020
Music for Recorders and Guitar including David Ellis (Fred's Blue Ginger Staircase Music).
BRITISH ORGAN MUSIC (Volume 5) - Ronald Frost
* Dunelm Records - DRD 0244
Music recorded at St Ann's Church Manchester including David Ellis (Vetrate di Ricercata).
BRITISH RECORDER CONCERTOS - John Turner with Manchester Camerata/Philip McKenzie
* Dutton Digital - CDLX 7154
Music including David Ellis (Divertimento Elegiaco op.54a).
INTO THE LIGHT - NCO/Nicholas Ward and Manchester Camerata Ensemble/Richard Howarth
* ASC Records CD86
Music including David Ellis (Two Fantasias for strings & Suite Francaise for strings).
4 x 4 NORTH WEST - string quartets by four composers with UK North West connections, played by the Manchester Camerata Ensemble & the Tavec Quartet
* D I Music - Campion Cameo 2046
Music by Anthony Gilbert, John Reeman, Duncan Druce and David Ellis (String Quartet No 3).
THE BRITISH DOUBLE BASS - UK composers: Leon Bosch with Sung-Suk Kang (piano) and I Musicanti
* Meridian CDE 84550
Music including David Ellis (Sonata for solo Double Bass)
PREMIERE RECORDINGS - works for piano and orchestra by UK composers played by
Mark Bebbington (piano) & City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Howard Williams
* Somm CD 241
Music including Frederic Austin (Concertino for piano and orchestra - ed: David Ellis).
MALCOLM ARNOLD ORCHESTRAL WORKS - revised performing editions prepared by David Ellis.
* Naxos 8.572640
Music including the Cello Concerto (Raphael Wallfisch/Northern Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas Ward) and the
Saxophone Concerto (Carl Raven), Flute Concertino (Esther Ingham), Recorder Fantasy (John Turner) with the Camerata Ensemble/Richard Howarth, plus the Symphony for strings (NCO/Nicholas Ward).
MUSIC FOR VIOLIN - Wu Zheng-Yu & David Jones (piano)
Sonata for solo violin and Violin Sonata
CHIMES IN TIME - Panayiotis Demopoulos (piano)
* Prima Facie PFCD013
Music by David Ellis ("Four Studies in Six Parts", "Seventeen or eighteen inaudible canons", and "Moto non Perpetuo") & Alexander Goehr, Anthony Gilbert and Panayiotis Demopoulos.