David Matthews was born in London in 1943 and started composing at the age of sixteen. He read Classics at the University of Nottingham - which has also made him an Honorary Doctor of Music - and afterwards studied composition privately with Anthony Milner. He was also much helped by the advice and encouragement of Nicholas Maw. He spent three years as an assistant to Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh in the late 1960's.
To support his composing career he has done editorial work, collaborating with Deryck Cooke on the performing version of Mahler's Tenth Symphony, and orchestrations of film music.
He has also written books on the music of Michael Tippett and of Benjamin Britten. He published a lecture on the relation of music to painting, Landscape into Sound, and reviews for various journals. Matthews is Music Advisor to the English Chamber Orchestra and was Artistic Director of the Deal Festival for 13 years. His music is widely played in Britain and abroad, is frequently broadcast, and over a dozen of his works are available on CD.