Hugh Davies

lecture and music performance
convent, St. Bernard chapel
Plasy Monastery 1994

"As a major part of my musical activities since 1967, I have constructed about 130 new concert instruments, sound installations, soundsculptures and toy instruments. One of my most commonly used sound sources is the coiled steel spring in many of its forms, which is the only sound source in my family of twelve amplified Springboards. The composition Spring Song (1971, rev. 1980 – on the CD) is played on Springboard Mk. V (1970), which consists of only two springs mounted on a wooden board and could be said to be a cousin of the electric guitar (but using springs and not strings). It was performed in St. Bernard's Chapel in a concert of music composed by myself, as well as that of John Cage."

Hugh Davies, 1994

Hugh Davies (1943–2005) was  born in Exmouth, Devon. He was a freelance composer, instrument inventor, performer and musicologist specialising in the new sound sources of the 20th century.  He was only 61 when he died in 2005, but he had established himself as the leading British composer of experimental music.  After completing his degree at Oxford, where he studied with Edmund Rubbra, Davies succeeded Cornelius Cardew as assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen and later began to invent instruments, the most well-known being the Shozyg. This was in 1967, the same year in which Davies was asked to establish an electronic music studio at Goldsmith’s College in London. He later developed sound installations and sound sculptures.

As a composer, apart from more or less traditionally notated music for conventional instruments, Davies  primarily concentrated on electronic music (live and on tape) and music theatre, since 1967 especially on works for his invented amplified instruments. Among his commissions were several works for modern dance groups. He invented some 130 concert instruments, sound installations and sound sculptures, and gave more than 180 solo concerts and lecture-recitals on his instruments, which have featured on over 50 published recordings. Thirty of his compositions have been recorded commercially (some in more than one version), and they have been performed and/or broadcast in 25 countries; his instruments, sound sculptures and other works have been exhibited in 13 countries. Two solo CDs have recently been released: Warming Up With the Iceman (2001), and a CD called Sounds Heard (2002) is included with his book of creative projects and documentation.

The travel expenses of Hugh Davies was supported by The British Council.

Performance was made in collaboration with Daniel Matej and Marek Piaček.