David Harvey was born in 1959 in Liverpool, UK. He has been active as a guitarist (specialising in contemporary repertoire), composer (with works published by Boosey and Hawkes and the ABRSM), researcher (completing a PhD on the music of Elliott Carter in 1986) and teacher (Oxford and Reading universities). Since 1986 he has pursued parallel lives in music and technology: for the last three years he has been fortunate to find a home for both as Head of Technology for Sibelius Software.
Three Parts Run Aground was one of a set of pieces for 2, 3 and 4 guitars commissioned 2003 by the UK's music examination body, ABRSM, for a new examination syllabus.
"I’ve always loved Purcell's music, and the way he combines high art and high jinx in some of his works, in particular the “Three Parts on a Ground” from which the inspiration and the title of this piece are derived. A little tune is subjected to several indignities against a ground which shifts amongst registers and instruments, before combining with itself in perfect and unexpected counterpoint to bring the piece to an untimely but strangely satisfying close."
The version for guitar and harpsichord makes clear another of the piece’s debts of inspiration – Ligeti’s Passacaglia ungharese – and was first performed by David Harvey and Chau-Yee Lo at Kings College, London, in 2005.
The first part of this suite was premiered on 7 October 2007 in Amsterdam on modern instruments by Anne Ku and Robert Bekkers. The third movement Floating was first premiered on Houston Public Radio's Front Row Programme, 17 December 2007 and again on Manao Radio Wailuku Maui Hawaii on 27 December 2007. The remaining movements were presented in La Coruna, Spain and Amsterdam in 2009.
Three Parts Run Aground (Homage to Purcell)
It Takes Two (More)
Floating (recorded on 9 ft NY Steinway grand, Hilhorst concert guitar at Houston Public Radio 17 Dec 2007)
Piazzolla's Tango Suite no. 2 arranged by David Harvey for piano and guitar. Performed at a Rotary Christmas Party 2009, Utrecht
"These pieces were originally written as part of a commission from the UK’s Associated Board, for pieces to contribute towards a new exam syllabus for young guitarists, to be taught and examined in ensemble. There’s not a lot of really imaginative music for early guitar ensemble – and what’s more, there were some specific constraints for the different “medals” that were awarded. So I wrote – quite quickly – eight pieces for 2 to 4 guitars, with the intention of making them varied and quirky but not really “light”. I like to write music that’s more complex than it sounds! There are several versions of some of these pieces – guitar duet, flute and guitar, solo keyboard. The versions for guitar and keyboard (either piano or harpsichord) are the latest, and unlike some of the earlier versions I’ve taken the opportunity to elaborate textures, add variations and repeat, to move the pieces “up a notch” to make a more attractive recital item.
The originals are performed in exams throughout the UK! Of the guitar and keyboard versions, only “Three parts run aground” has been premiered – with harpsichord, in 2005.
The pieces are often homages to styles or composers. In the four pieces that make up the keyboard “Little Suite”, the Purcell tribute is explicit, but Ligeti lurks in the background. Russian Dance nods towards the Stravinsky of The Soldiers Tale, Floating is a wistful Parisian waltz, while It Takes Two is an affectionate tribute to Piazzolla.