David Symons is a graduate of The University of Sydney and since 1967 has been a member of the academic staff of The University of Western Australia where he is at present Associate Professor of Music.
From 1970-1982 he was Associate Editor of The Australian Journal of Music Education; while from 1980-1984 he was Associate Editor, and from 1985-1992 Co-Editor of
Studies in Music, an international musicological journal published at
The University of Western Australia.
He is planning a book on the music of Australia's 'Jindyworobak' composers - an expansion of the research completed for the earlier mentioned article and book chapter. This project is envisaged to take approximately 3-4 years to complete and will include studies of relevant works by Alfred and Mirrie Hill, Clive Douglas, John Antill, James Penberthy and Peter Sculthorpe as well as other minor contributors to this repertoire. The book is planned as either a sole authored monograph or possibly co-authored with a colleague.
Periods of Study Leave together with a Teaching Relief Grant in 1995 which assisted in the completion of the monograph on Margaret Sutherland.
1966-67: Tutor in Music, the University of Sydney
David Symons's teaching at The University of Western Australia has ranged widely from introductory courses in the history of Western music and surveys of music in non-Western cultures to more specialized teaching (including the supervision of postgraduate research) in the areas of nineteenth and twentieth century music, Australian music since federation, tonal and post tonal harmonic and structural analysis and analytical theory. He has supervised over 30 Masters and Doctoral candidates to completion (including 3 PhDs receiving Distinctions).
His general area of research is early to mid-20th-century music including Australian music. His PhD dissertation (1980) at The University of Western Australia was on tonal organisation in the symphonies of Egon Wellesz, and he has published articles (in the journal 'Studies in Music') and completed a book on this composer titled 'Egon Wellesz: Composer' published by Heinrichsofen Books, Wilhelmshaven, Germany in 1997. He has also written on the music of the German composer Hans Werner Henze (the subject of his 1966 MA thesis) as well as Australian composers David Ahern, Barry Conyngham, James Penberthy, Roger Smalley, Margaret Sutherland and David Tunley. His book, 'The Music of Margaret Sutherland', was published by Currency Press, Sydney, in 1997, her centenary year. More recent publications on her music have included an essay on her chamber music for a CD and also editions of chamber music and songs with scholarly prefaces for a series of published scores titled 'Australian Heritage Series by Keys Press. He also contributed a major article on Australian music composition before 1960 for 'The Oxford Companion to Australian Music' (1997) and completed a similar article for the 'Companion to Music and Dance in Australia' (1999). More recent publications have included an article on the Jindyworobak connection in Australian music (published in the journal 'Context' in 2003) and a book chapter on this topic in connection with the music of Clive Douglas (published in 'The Soundscapes of Australia'(2007) by Ashgate Publishing (UK). His most recent research has been on the music of John Antill, which has yielded two articles (published in the journal 'Musicology Australia' in 2008 and 2012), and he has in 2015 completed a book on the music of this composer titled 'Before and After Corroboree: The Music of John Antill' which is in production by Ashgate Publishing (UK).