David Kinsela

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David Kinsela is an Australian organist and musicologist who specialises in ancient instruments like the clavicytherium and chekker.

Kinsela was born in Sans Souci, a suburb in Sydney, on 3 June 1941 and raised and schooled at Young in mid-west New South Wales.

As a 14-year-old he had a decisive encounter at the pipe organ with J.S. Bach. He trained in Sydney in English and French schools under Kenneth Long and Norman Johnston played Poulenc's Organ Concerto in the Sydney Town Hall on national TV. Kinsela qualified in civil and traffic engineering and erected the signs on Australia's first expressway.[1]

Kinsela is recording a series of CDs featuring the music of Buxtehude.[2][3] Click here to hear a sample.

Middle years in Europe

Kinsela moved to Switzerland in 1967 where he studied for five years at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis under Edward Müller. His experiments with 'paired fingering' in the ancient manner informed his playing of early keyboard music.[4]

During this time he created a recital series, 'Organ Landscapes of the Seventeenth Century'.[5]

While living in Canberra, Oxford and London, he was instrumental in saving fine organs in Australia, England and Wales. He researched keyboard fingering for three years in the British Library, and was a lecturer in keyboard skills at King's College London.

Later years in Sydney

Kinsela returned to Sydney in 1977 to consolidate discoveries in early performance practice. He established with Greg Young the NSW Heritage Council Pipe Organ Advisory Committee.[no citations needed here] He published J.S. Bach editions in facsimile and presented two cycles of Bach's organ works. Kinsela is an active promoter of contemporary organ music through commissions and the anthology Organ Australis. In September 1983 gave the first performance of Moya Henderson's work for organ and pre-recorded tape, Sacred Site, marking the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Opera House.[6]

With David Evans, he recreated the gold-strung medieval clavicytherium on which he has recorded the earliest surviving keyboard music.[7]

In 1988 Kinsela identified the nature of the first string-keyboard, the 14th-century chekker[8]

In 1998 he acted as consultant for the restoration of the organ at St. Peters, East Maitland.

In 2001 he established the taxonomy of early keyboard compass and launched the label organ.o.

External links


  1. David Kinsela's website: Profile
  2. Daybreak, a recording featuring Buxtehude's music on the Aubertin Organ, at L'Église Saint-Louis-en-lÎle, Paris, is referred to in the Church Times (April 2007): Ronald Blythe in 'Word from Wormington' says the sumptuous music, like dark honey, has sweetened the ancient farmhouse rooms.
  3. Church Times, 3 April 2007, p32.
  4. [1] Booklet with organ.o CD ORO 102: Digital Dance, pp 7 and 8
  5. [2] David Kinsela's website: Profile
  6. [3] Australian Music Centre: Moya Henderson
  7. [4] See 'Fundamentum' – The Birth of Keyboard Repertoire.
  8. [5] David Kinsela: "The Capture of the Chekker," Galpin Society journal 51 (1998), pp 64–85.