DAVID LYON (b 1938 )
David Lyon was born in 1938 in Walsall, in the English Midlands, and was educated at Queen Marys Grammar School. He began taking piano lessons when he was around eight years old and quickly developed an assured technique. However, he showed no particular interest either in listening to or composing for the instrument. It was the sound of the symphony orchestra that provided the creative stimulus he needed. His earliest attempts show the strong influence of Sibelius ("Hearing the Fifth Symphony for the first time", he says, "was like listening to my own imagination."), but later efforts are in a more obviously English tradition ("the Elgar/Walton axis, rather than Vanghan Williams pastoral"). He later studied briefly at Birmingham School of Music, and then, from 1960-64, at the Royal Academy of Music with the distinguished composer and teacher John Gardner. He also became acquainted with and profoundly affected by the music of Mahler, Shostakovich, Tippett, and the composer to whom he is most indebted, Benjamin Britten. Although this influence is most evident in his vocal music, it has also had a fundamental effect on his whole approach to composition.
The first substantial result of this was setting of poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Other works from this period include the String Quartet, Three Miniatures for Flute and Piano (his first student wok and still in print), sonatas for viola and clarinet and the one-movement Piano Concerto (which won the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize in 1964). During the next ten years or so, David Lyon concentrated mainly on producing orchestral pieces suitable for the BBCs light music programmes. These include the prize-winning Divertimento for Small Orchestra, Dance Prelude, the overture Joie de vivre, Short Suite for Strings, and five of the pieces recorded here. However, he also continued to write considerable quantities of music in other categories chamber, vocal and orchestral including a set of Variations for large orchestra. In 1973 he was asked to contribute to the Association Board New Wind Music series, and such miniatures as Toccatina for oboe and Almost a Waltz for clarinet have subsequently become widely familiar among wind players. In 1975 he received a commission from the Coventry Schools Music Association for a youth opera The Reckoning (based on Everyman) which encouraged him to expand his activity both into music theatre and into youth music generally.
In 1978, having become interested in adult education, David Lyon took the opportunity to study for music degree at Bristol University. This return to full-time student life proved stimulating and disconcerting in equal measure, but resulted in a thesis on the symphonies of Franz Berwald and a composition portfolio that included Ballet for Orchestra and a single-movement violin sonata, subsequently heavily amended and re-titled Duologue. Since the mid-1980s, most of his works have been designed for school or amateur performance, involving voices in one form or another. These include a series of audience adventures for children, written in collaboration with the novelist and theatre director Teresa Collard. Game, Snakes and Ladders and The Battle of Trafalgar have received frequent performances, the latter being televised in 1983. In 1998 he realized a long-standing ambition of writing a stage musical with an adaptation of a radio play by Tom Stoppard, Alberts Bridge. He also pursues an active career as a jazz pianist, both as a solo entertainer and with his own trio.