David Lesser

(b. 15 January 1966, Birmingham, West Midlands).

British composer, now resident in the United Arab Emirates, of mostly chamber, vocal and piano works that have been performed throughout Europe and in the Middle East; he is also active as a pianist.

Mr. Lesser studied composition with Philip Cannon at the Royal College of Music in London in 1985–86, where he also studied recorder with Ross Winter from 1985–90 and piano with Robert Sutherland from 1985–95. He then studied composition with Margaret Lucy Wilkins at the University of Huddersfield from 1991–93, where he earned his MA. He also studied composition privately with Simon Bainbridge from 1986–88, Michael Finnissy in 1993 and James Dillon in 1994 and recorder privately with Paul Clark from 1982–85 and Alan Davis from 1989–91.

As a pianist, his specialty is contemporary music and he often works with his wife, the coloratura soprano Clare Lesser.

He is also active in other positions. He sang as a chorister and later as head chorister at St. Martin in the Bull Ring in Birmingham from 1978–82. He served as ensemble director in the première in the UK of Sternklang by Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1992 and later served as joint regional coordinator for the organisation Contemporary Music for All.

He taught as a tutor at the arts centre mac in Birmingham from 1986–93 and as a lecturer at the University of Warwick in Coventry from 1993–99, where he was a part-time tutor from 1994–2005, a senior teaching fellow from 2000–05 and Open Studies Certificate Coordinator from 2005–07. He also taught piano and recorder for the Lyndon Humanities College in Solihull, the Lyndon Music Centre in Solihull and the Solihull Music Service from 1993–2007. He later lectured at the American University in Dubai and the American University of Sharjah.

He has lived in the United Arab Emirates since 2007.


E-mail address:



Wavedark, recorders, 1985

Darkening Images, 1990


Te lucis ante terminum, bass recorder, piano, 1984

Three Pieces, oboe, piano, 1984

Passion Tropes, oboe, 1984, revised 2000

Scape, cello, 1985

The Dawn of Dreams, viola, 1987

Words in the Dark, alto recorder, 1988

Gloria tibi trinitas, recorders, 1988

Ghosts, cello, 1988

Pages Condamnés, alto recorder, piano, 1989

Spells and Incantations, oboe, piano, 1991

Five Fantasias from 'Haiku', flute (+ alto flute), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), harp, violin, viola, cello, marimba, 1992 (shorter version of Haiku)

Liber Hymnorum I, cello, 1993 (shorter version of Hymns and Fragments)

Orkney Aphorisms, A-clarinet obbligato, ensemble (flute, violin, viola, cello), 1993

Liber Hymnorum II, cello, 1994

Snare, flute, piano, 1994

Gestures of Loss, recorders, 1994

Charlie's Farewell, clarinet, 1995

Remembrances of Nothing, flute, alto flute/fixed media, 1996

Deus miserereSi ascenderò, alto recorder, 1997

Sorge (two studies), violin, viola, cello, 1998

Elegies III, flute (+ alto flute, stones), A-clarinet (+ stones), bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, percussion, 1998

Call, French horn, 1998

Rain and Stone (In MemoriamTed Hughes 19301998), bass flute, harp, viola, percussion, 1998

Beginning, cello, 1998 (also version for viola, 1998)

Discourses Inscribed in Air, soprano recorder (+ alto recorder), alto recorder (+ tenor recorder), tenor recorder (+ bass recorder), 2000

Mobile, B-flat trumpet, 2000

'...für einen Augenblick die Tanzfigur...', tenor recorder, 2001

Shroud Tracing, 3 alto recorders (all + stones), 2002

Briefe an..., amplified bass recorder, live electronics, 2003

Advent, piccolo, B-flat flügelhorn, 2003

Andachtsbild I, bass clarinet, trombone, harp, viola, double bass, piano, percussion, 2004

Andachtsbild II, 2 flutes (both + piccolo), E-flat clarinet, clarinet, alto trombone, trombone, bass trombone, harp, viola, double bass, piano, percussion, 2004

Scar, French horn, double bass, 3 percussion, 2008

Two Inscriptions, clarinet, piano, 2008

Geschrieben an der Wand, alto recorder, oboe, bassoon, guitar, cello, percussion, 2008

Regenlieder, A-clarinet, viola, 2008

Altri lagrima lontanza, flute obbligato, ensemble (piccolo, bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano, accordion), 2009

Losing You, alto flute, oboe d'amore, double bass, 2010

Interrogating Night, alto recorder, violin, cello, fixed media, 2010

...Hirten und weißen Sternen, 2 amplified headjoints of a bass recorder, 2012

Shards, alto flute (+ bass flute, piccolo), bass clarinet, French horn, harp, cimbalom, 2 violins, viola, cello, 2012

Vestige II, any trumpet, 2012


Anthem for an Anniversary (text by Kathleen Norcross), 4 mixed voices, organ, 1997

There is no rose (anthem), 4 mixed voices, 1999


Haiku (text by Matsuo Bashō [translated by Lucien Stryk]), soprano, oboe obbligato, ensemble (flute [+ alto flute], clarinet [+ bass clarinet], harp, violin, viola, cello, marimba), 1992 (also shorter versions as Eight Haiku, soprano, oboe, 1992; Five Fantasias from 'Haiku', flute [+ alto flute], clarinet [+ bass clarinet], harp, violin, viola, cello, marimba)

Hymns and Fragments (text from an anonymous source in Anglo-Saxon [translated by the composer]), soprano, cello, 1993 (also shorter version as Liber Hymnorum I, cello)

Tränen... (text by Andreas Gryphius), high soprano, alto recorder, harpsichord, percussion, 1994

Virgil Settings (text by Virgil), female voice, 1995

Zwei Gedichte (text by Nikolaus Lenau), high voice, piano, 1995

O ignis spiritus (trope, text by St. Hildegard of Bingen, adapted by Clare Lesser), female voice, 1997

Avernus, soprano, piano, 1999

Branches (text by Arthur Rimbaud), soprano, clarinet (+ bass clarinet), trumpet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 2000

Three Ancient Names (text by Callimachus), soprano, clarinet, cello, 2000

Soleil Noir (text by Gérard de Nerval), soprano, bass clarinet (+ contrabass clarinet), cello, piano, accordion, percussion, 2000

Ferne Tränen IIII (song-cycle, text by Andreas Gryphius), mezzo-soprano, trombone, violin, piano, button accordion, 2001 (its three sections may be performed separately)

' fait l'abîme fleurant...' (text by Arthur Rimbaud), soprano (+ 3 suspended crotales), clarinet, double bass, button accordion, 2002

Concerning the Ibis (text by Ovid), soprano (+ finger cymbals), E-flat clarinet, button accordion, 2002

Vestige I (text by Georg Trakl), any voice, 2012


Nachtstücke, 1991

Schattenbilder, 1995

Feuilles, 1998

Je sais les cieux crevant en éclairs, 2001

Les Noirs, 2003

Andachtsbild III, 2004

La Trépigneuse, 2008


Elegies I, 1996