David Tunley

David Tunley

Emeritus Professor, AM, MMus Dunelm., DLitt Hon.DMus W.Aust., FAHA, DSCM, LTCL, Chevalier de L'Ordre des Palmes Académiques

  • The University of Western Australia (M413), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Emeritus Professor David Tunley was initially trained as a pianist at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, but when coming to Perth in 1958 (having gained the degree of Bachelor of Music from the University of Durham as an external stduent) turned his energies more towards choral conducting, composition and research. Commencing as a lecturer in the then newly-fledged Department of Music, he was eventually appointed to a Personal Chair before moving to the Chair of Music after the retirement of Sir Frank Callaway. He is now an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Music at UWA.

Roles and responsibilities

National appointments have been as Chairman of the Music Board of the Australia Council, National President of the Musicological Society of Australia, National Chairman of the Australian Music Examinations Board. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, Member of the Order of Australia and was awarded an Australian Centenary Medal. Past membership of various UWA committees include Chairman of the Board and Management of University Radio 6UVSFM (in the 80s), committee member of the Festival of Perth (Board of Management), Research Committee, Honorary Degrees Committee, President of the Friends of the University Library (continuing).


It has been musicology that established his international reputation with the publication of 8 books, 70 articles (in journals, book chapters and in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The New Oxford History of Music – vols 4 & 6, Die Music in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Kassel etc) as well as editions of 18th and 19th century French music in 23 volumes. (Garland Press , New York). His book The 18th-Century French Cantata (London 1974, Oxford 1997 which earned him the degree of Doctor of Letters (UWA, 1970) is regarded as the classic study of this important form and is constantly cited in French baroque research. He has taken up research fellowships at Oxford (Christ Church and Wolfson) and the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio in Italy. As a composer he studied in Paris – through a French Government Scholarship- under the famous teacher Nadia Boulanger in the 60s. Soon after his appointment as lecturer in music at UWA he founded the University A Capella Choir (later becoming the University Collegium Musicum) which introduced works rarely heard in Perth in those days, and created the much-loved York Winter Music Festival and the Terrace Proms.

Research expertise keywords

  • Australian and British music in the twentieth century
  • French music (baroque to romantic periods)
  • Historical musicology


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