David Earl was born in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 1951. Aged six, he moved with his family to Cape Town where he commenced schooling and thirteen years of piano tuition under Sona Whiteman. He made his professional debut at the age of sixteen, broadcasting Bach, Chopin and Chabrier on the SABC. A year later he appeared with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra playing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No 1.
In 1971, having performed further broadcast recitals, and the Tchaikovsky 1st and Rachmaninoff 1st and 2nd concertos, he moved to London.
During four years at Trinity College of Music, studying performing under the Russian emigree Jacob Kaletsky, and composition with Richard Arnell, David gave his first Wigmore Hall recital (“stylish and powerful” – The Times) and broadcast a live lunchtime recital on BBC Radio 3.
In 1975 the then Greater London Arts Association selected David as one of its Young Musicians of the Year. This, and winning first prize in the 1976 SABC Piano Competition, brought further performing exposure, including annual recitals at the Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall (“remarkable gifts of style, technical mastery and artistry” – The Daily Telegraph; “excellent” – The Guardian).
In 1977, David premiered his own Piano Suite No 1 Mosaics at Wigmore Hall, launching his career as a composer. In subsequent years he would play Suite No 2 Gargoyles, 24 Preludes – Oxymorons, and Suite No 3 Mandalas at London venues. In 1980 he gave the first performance of his Piano Concerto No 1 with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra under Christian Badea. In September of that year he performed the solo piano part in Chéri, an hour-long score commissioned by The Scottish Ballet (choreographed by Peter Darrell) and premiered at the Edinburgh Festival. In 1986, with David and Melanie Horne as soloists, the Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra was given in Cape Town under the baton of Enrique Garcia Asensio.
In addition to a number of tours round South Africa, David has played a variety of solo recitals in the United States including performances of the Chopin Preludes at the Los Angeles Arts Festival for dancer and choreographer Michael Clark (a tour that included performances in Spain, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia, England, and later filmed for Channel Four) as well as appearances in Germany, France and Hong Kong. He has given many recitals, as well as playing concertos, in Oxford, Cambridge and other UK cities.
David’s repertoire includes the Viennese classics, many of the 19th century composers and several from the 20th. He has played the Piano Concertos by Arthur Bliss and John Joubert, studying both with the composers. Conductors he has worked with include Hugo Rignold, Piero Gamba, Maurice Handford and Christian Badea. He gave the first performance of Jonathan Harvey’s Four Images after Yeats. He has a special affinity for Rachmaninoff and has given many performances of the 1st Piano Sonata and Chopin Variations.