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David Fanshawe – collector of Pacific music

Fanshawe_David PERHAPS THE greatest collector and archivist of the music of the Pacific and PNG has died in England at the age of 68.

David Fanshawe was also a composer of note, his best-known and most influential work being African Sanctus, which fused a choral mass with field recordings of traditional music he made on travels in Africa from 1969-75

Later in his career he worked extensively in the Pacific. “His archival collection of Pacific music is legendary and, I'm sure, unique,” says Assoc Prof Martin Hadlow of Queensland University.

“Perhaps, one day the NBC in PNG will be able to retrieve some of its own 'lost recordings' by accessing copies from David's collection.”

In a parallel career, Fanshawe also composed scores for over 30 films and television programs, including When the Boat Comes In, England their England and Softly, Softly.

He began to explore the Pacific region in 1978 and, in 1981, with his wife and two young children, he relocated to Fiji, which he used as a base for his travels. In the mid eighties he remarried and resettled in Australia, from where he continued his journeys through Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. He eventually made around 2,000 recordings.

The family returned to the UK in 1992, settling in Wiltshire, where Fanshawe established his archives and continued to compose.

Source: David Fanshawe: Composer and explorer best known for 'African Sanctus' by Jon Lusk, The Independent, 15 July 2010


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Janice  Slater

Keith - Thank you for this tribute to the remarkable David Fanshawe. What an extraordinary life.

I only wish I'd learned and heard more of the music from PNG when I was a teenager visiting there.

I remember hearing about David's work in the Pacific only in latter years.

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