Don Banks
Donald Oscar Banks

25 October 1923
Died5 September 1990 (aged 66)
McMahons Point, New South Wales, Australia
OccupationMusic composer

Donald Oscar Banks (25 October 1923 – 5 September 1980) was an Australian composer of concert, jazz, and commercial music.

Life and career

Jazz was Banks' earliest and strongest musical influence. He studied composition privately with Mátyás Seiber, who was himself much interested in jazz, from 1950 to 1952. He became a friend and associate of Gunther Schuller and was much involved with Tubby Hayes, writing several compositions for him.

In the 1950s Banks was the secretary to Edward Clark, head of the London Contemporary Music Centre.[1] He was chairman of the Society for the Promotion of New Music (SPNM) in 1967–68, and held several other posts in London whilst living in Purley, Surrey (at 16, Box Ridge Avenue).

He returned to Australia in 1972, as Head of Composition and Electronic Music Studies at the Canberra School of Music. He remained there till 1977, then had a series of educational positions. In 1978 he was appointed Head of the School of Composition Studies at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music.[2]

Banks's best-known works include the Sonata da Camera for flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, viola, and cello (1961, dedicated to Mátyás Seiber); a Horn Concerto (1965, dedicated to and premiered by Barry Tuckwell, as was the Horn Trio); a Trio for horn, violin, and piano (1962); a Violin Concerto (1968), and Nexus, his major 'third stream' composition.

He died at his home in the Sydney suburb of McMahons Point, after an eight-year battle with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.[3] He left a widow, Valerie, and a son, Simon. The Don Banks Music Award, funded by the Australia Council for the Arts, is named after him


Orchestral works


Third stream/crossover works


Banks is credited for composing music in the following films:[6][7]


  • Larson, Randall D. (1996). "Don Banks". Music from the House of Hammer: Music in the Hammer Horror Films, 1950-1980. The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series, vol. 47. Scarecrow Press. pp. 51–57. ISBN 9781461669845.
  1. ^ Graham Hair, Musical Ideas, Musical Sounds: A Collection of Essays
  2. ^ Randall D. Larson, Music from the House of Hammer: Music in the Hammer Horror Films, 1950–1980. Retrieved 25 April 2016
  3. ^ Sitsky, Larry (1993). "Banks, Donald Oscar (Don) (1923–1980)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 13. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  4. ^ Review, 'The Golden Age of Light Music', in MusicWeb International, May 2012
  5. ^ Music of the Four Realms, Heritage HTGCD 169 (2021)
  6. ^ Michael R. Pitts (10 January 2014), Columbia Pictures Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1928-1982, p. 256, ISBN 9780786457663
  7. ^ Randall D. Larson (1996a), "Music Credits by Title", Music from the House of Hammer: Music in the Hammer Horror Films, 1950-1980, The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series, vol. 47, Scarecrow Press, pp. 169–176, ISBN 9781461669845

Further reading