Don Kay

Don Kay’s musical language has its roots in the tradition of Western art music but has been significantly shaped by his experience of Tasmania’s environment and history.

Kay identifies Hastings Bay (1986) as the first mature piece that was a direct, conscious response to a specific personal experience of a specific place, acknowledged by the title. Two works, amongst a number important to him for reflecting this influence, are: Tasmania Symphony – the Legend of Moinee for cello and orchestra (1988), and Piano Trio, The Edge of Remoteness (1996).

Kay is aware that his response to Tasmania’s natural world has developed an individualised, personal language which, liberated from literal and metaphorical connections, now permeates his abstract work. Piano Sonatas 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12 (2009-2021): Intermezzo for FrancesExtraordinary Byways (both piano): Memento Mori, 5 operatic scenes for male and female solo voices and piano trio (2018); Symphony 4 (2017), Concerto for Trumpet with Winds and Percussion (2018) and Conflagration, the Tasmanian bushfires, Summer, 2018-19, for SATB soloists, chorus, two pianos and six percussionists, with text by John Honey (2019) are among his more recent works.

Don Kay was born on January 25th 1933 in Smithton, Tasmania. He was educated at Smithton Primary School, Launceston Church Grammar School and the University of Melbourne where he gained his music degree. He studied composition privately in London with Malcolm Williamson (1959-1964).

Since returning to Hobart in 1964 he has composed much music for professional individuals, ensembles, young performers, amateur groups, theatre, concert and public occasions. His compositions include two one-act operas, a major two-act opera (The Bushranger’s Lover), seven concertos, four symphonies, vocal, choral and chamber music, including six string quartets. His works have been performed Australia-wide and internationally.

Works to have received special awards include: The Golden Crane (a one-act opera for young people’s theatre with libretto by Gwen Harwood); Tasmania Symphony – the Legend of Moinee (for cello and orchestra); and Dance Concertante (for string orchestra).

In 1991 Don Kay was appointed a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia for his service to the Arts, particularly in the field of composition. In 2001 he was awarded a Centenary Medal for an outstanding contribution to music, music education and composing in Tasmania. In 2010 he was awarded the Clive Lord Memorial Medal by the Royal Society of Tasmania.

Kay retired from the staff of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music in 1998 having served as Head of Department from 1990 to 1993. He now composes full-time, but has maintained his association with the Conservatorium as an adjunct professor, and continues to be involved in teaching composition on a casual basis.

Works by Don Kay in Our Catalogue

KAY: Symphony No.2: The South Land for Symphony Orchestra
$124.95 inc. GST
Symphony No.2 (1996) The South Land Don Kay 3[1.2.pic]3[1.2.EH]3[1.2.Bcl]3[1.2.Cbn] –...
KAY: String Quartet No.7
$74.95 inc. GST
String Quartet No.7 (2020) Subtitled Crisscross, my String Quartet is...
KAY: String Quartet No.6
$64.95 inc. GST
String Quartet No.6: On Truganini Track (2003) Truganini Track (2.1km)...
KAY: String Quartet No.5
$114.95 inc. GST
String Quartet No. 5 – A Tragic Life (2002): The...
KAY: String Quartet No.3
$94.95 inc. GST
String Quartet No.3 (1978) This work was commissioned by the...
KAY: String Quartet No.2
$154.95 inc. GST
      I               Allegrissimo II             Con Calma III            Inganno...
KAY: String Quartet No.1 The Quest
$79.95 inc. GST
String Quartet No. 1: The Quest (1971): Don Kay In...
KAY: Six Miniatures for Piano Trio
$84.95 inc. GST
This work was originally conceived in 1964 as a work...
KAY: Memento Mori for String Quartet
$54.95 inc. GST
Memento Mori (2001) for String Quartet Don Kay In 2001...
KAY: Mathinna’s Lullaby
$34.95 inc. GST
Mathinna’s Lullaby for Oboe & Piano (2009) Don writes…I wrote...
KAY: Mathinna in the red dress
$34.95 inc. GST
Mathinna in the red dress for String Orchestra (2007) Composed...
KAY: Infant Holy: a Polish Christmas Carol
$34.95 inc. GST
Infant Holy – A Polish Christmas Carol Don Kay 3[1.2.3/pic]223...
KAY: Dance Movement, for Small Orchestra [Originally composed 1968, this orchestration 2003]
$44.95 inc. GST
Dance Movement: for Small Orchestra [Originally composed 1968, this orchestration...
KAY: Coolness for Solo Oboe
$14.95 inc. GST
Coolness for Solo Oboe This work was commissioned by Elizabeth...
KAY: Concerto for Viola and String Orchestra
$129.95 inc. GST
Concerto for Viola and String Orchestra (1973) Don Kay This...
KAY: Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra
$64.95 inc. GST
Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra Don Kay Written...
KAY: Brevities
$29.95 inc. GST
Brevities (2021) In 2020, David Harvey offered me the opportunity...
KAY: 10 Lullabies for solo piano
$54.95 inc. GST
10 Lullabies for solo piano Don Kay Duration 18:00 minutes...