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A selection of Canfield’s compositions:
- Symphony No. 1 (Symphonia Brevissima)
- Symphony No. 2 (Israel)
- Symphony No. 3 (Retrospective)
- Concerto for Piano & Orchestra
- Cat & Bird: Concertante Music after Paul Klee
- Oklahoma Requiem
- Sonata No. 1 for Violin & Piano
- Sonata No. 2 for Violin & Piano
- Sonata for Alto Saxophone & Piano
- The Cats of Ellettsville (Ballet Suite)
David DeBoor Canfield was born in 1950 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, into a musical household. His mother, June DeBoor Canfield, was a former violinist in the Columbus Philharmonic under Izler Solomon and his father, Dr. John Canfield, had founded the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra (now the Florida Philharmonic) just before the younger Canfield was born, and was a music educator throughout his career, which was centered in South Florida. It was natural, therefore that Canfield’s earliest musical studies (beginning at age 6) in piano, violin, music theory and composition were all with his father, although by the time he had reached high school, these lessons had greatly diminished in frequency due to his father’s busy schedule, and Canfield’s increasing interest in the subject of chemistry. It was in chemistry, in fact, that he was accepted as a major at Stetson University in 1968, although he received a full scholarship from the school for playing in the University Orchestra, of which he was concertmaster for a year and a half.
Midway through his junior year, Canfield decided to switch from chemistry to music and transferred to Covenant College, where his father was head of the music department at the time. He became the first composition major to graduate from that school. Taking two years off from his education after graduation, he played violin professionally in the Fort Lauderdale Symphony (as it was then called), the Miami Opera Association and the Miami Beach Symphony Orchestra. In 1974, Canfield decided to begin graduate school and was accepted into Indiana University. His composition teachers there included John Eaton, Bernhard Heiden and Frederick Fox. Canfield was awarded the MM in Composition in 1977 and the DM in Composition in 1983.
While at Indiana University, his dissertation piece, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, won the Dean’s Composition Competition and was premiered by David Brunell, piano, and Keith Brown, with the Indiana University Orchestra.
Not interested in pursuing a career as a teacher of composition, Canfield then began Ars Antiqua, which in a short time became the world’s largest mail-order business devoted to classical LP records. He also compiled, during the course of running this venture, the world-wide standard price guide for classical records, the latest edition of which contains almost 200,000 different records on all formats.
During the 25 years he has run his record business, however, he has continued to compose and receive numerous performances of his works, which include the premiere of his Piano Sonata in Geneva, Switzerland, at the Festival Europeen International in 1990, his Toccata and Fugue in Eb Minor in Holland in 1997, and his Overture: The Spirit of Challenger by two different orchestras, the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra which commissioned and premiered it under his own direction in 1986 and the Columbia, Indiana, Philharmonic Orchestra in 1992 under the direction of David Bowden.
Canfield is the composer-in-residence of the Bloomington Pops Orchestra, which has performed more than 12 of his pieces over the eight years of the orchestra’s existence. The largest scale of these, the American Patriot Overture, scored for large orchestra, chorus, auxiliary brass and cannons, the Pops performed three times (in 1999, 2000 and 2001) to audiences totaling more than 15,000 people.
In 1986, Canfield won the Jill Sackler Cello Composition Contest, open to any composer anywhere, with his Prisms for Violoncello Quartet and Orchestra of Violoncellos. This work was premiered at the Third American Cello Congress by Laszlo Varga, conductor, and an orchestra comprising some of the world’s most distinguished cellists. It was subsequently performed at the Eva Janzer Memorial Concert at Indiana University in October, 2000 under the direction of faculty member, Emilio Colon. In February of 2001, a three day festival featuring his music was presented by the faculty and students of the University of Central Oklahoma at Edmond, OK. A number of works were premiered at this festival, including his Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, by the dedicatee, Kenneth Tse, who has performed it widely, most recently at the World Saxophone Congress in Minneapolis. Also premiered at this same festival was his Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, performed by James L. Klages, who is on the faculty of the University of Central Oklahoma. In 2003, The Proclamation, a 90-minute oratorio jointly composed with his father was premiered in Bloomington, Indiana to critical and audience acclaim.
Canfield has also received commissions from Diane Bish, internationally known concert organist, the Minneapolis Artists Ensemble, and the Mastersingers of Cookeville, Tennessee for a work to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that group in 1999. He is also the author of numerous articles for music journals and record review magazines, and has written program notes for several record companies.
He and his wife, Carole, reside in Ellettsville, Indiana with their 5 cats and 60,000-record collection specializing in 20th-century music. He is also 2nd violin section leader of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra and Bloomington Pops Orchestra; his other interests include theology, science, Nero Wolfe mysteries and analog sound reproduction.
Canfield’s list of works includes a Symphonia Brevissima, The Garden of Gethsemane (organ and chamber orchestra), several works for solo organ, including a Symphony; a string quartet, a string trio (Maesta for violin, viola and double bass), Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, sonatas for trumpet, piano, bassoon, horn and alto saxophone, Spring Reveries (chorus, flute, oboe, bassoon & harp), 2 violin sonatas, 2 concert overtures and a suite of orchestra pieces for a projected ballet entitled The Cats of Ellettsville. Also in his canon are a number of works for brass ensemble, including Oklahoma Requiem, Intrada on a Hymn Tune of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Microtonal Fanfare and the Bug ‘n’ Bear Suite and several solo piano pieces. A handful of his works have been issued on LP and CD, most recently his Sonata for Saxophone and Piano, on Crystal Records, performed by Kenneth Tse and Mami Nagai.
In 2005, he saw the premiere of both his Symphony No. 2, "Israel," by the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Christopher Ludwa and his Symphony No. 3, "Retrospective," given by Stephen Pratt and the Indiana Univeristy Symphonic Band. The former has been released on the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra’s own label and copies may be obtained from the composer. The Proclamation, his jointly-composed work (with his father, John Canfield). has also been issued by Enharmonic Records. This 90-minute work for soloists, chorus and full orchestra was premiered in April of 2003 to rave reviews.