After studying music at Cambridge he went on to be an organist at Nottingham University and New College, Oxford, and later Principal of the Royal Scottish Conservatoire of Music and Drama before joining the Academy.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Principal, commented:

'Sir David’s impact in his decade as Principal was remarkable in his pioneering vision, unfailing commitment, bold decisions and inspiring guidance and support to so many. His capacity for encouragement lay at the heart of his leadership. He was a very significant figure in British musical life. The Academy offers condolences to David’s family and registers huge gratitude for his service to this institution.’