David Rumsey was born in Sydney. He first studied the organ there with Donald Hollier then Norman Johnston. As winner of the prize for "Most Distinguished Student of the Year" and the prestigious Vasanta Scholarship, he travelled to Europe in 1963 to continue studies with Jørgen-Ernst Hansen (Copenhagen), Marie-Claire Alain (Paris) and Anton Heiller (Vienna). In 1967, after graduating from the Vienna Akademie with the "Reifeprüfung", he returned to take up a position at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.
Moving back to Sydney in 1969 he further developed his growing reputation as an organist, teacher and organ consultant. He has travelled extensively in the course of his career, with destinations as far apart as Italy, Austria, France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Holland, England, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, India, USA and Canada in the northern hemisphere, with Australia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island and Singapore in the southern hemisphere and Asia-Pacific area. In the course of this he has made many Radio and TV broadcasts (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2MBS-FM Sydney, Swiss Radio, New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, USA, Canada) and numerous disc and CD recordings for labels such as ABC Classics, 2MBS-FM, Tall Poppies and OehmsClassics.
For over 25 years, until 1998, he was the regular organist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and as such frequently presided over the Grand Organs of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Town Hall. He is also known as a broadcaster and was a pioneer in FM radio in Australia, a founder of 2MBS-FM (now "Fine Music 102.5"). His associations with multimedia events have included performances of the Saint-Saëns "Organ" Symphony to 100,000 people with the orchestra in the Sydney Domain (via a micro-wave link - the organ was several kilometres away in Sydney Town Hall). In 1998 he wrote, produced, acted and performed in a highly successful 14-hour musical and dramatic spectacle on the life of J. S. Bach, with actors in period costume from the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and musicians playing period instruments.
In March 1999, after some 20 years as Head of Organ and Church Music at Sydney Conservatorium, he resigned his Senior Lectureship at the University of Sydney to travel around Europe, USA and Canada where he gave recitals and master classes. He came back to a busy recital schedule in Australia between March and August 2000, then returned to Denmark for more concerts.
David Rumsey settled in Switzerland during November 2000. Domiciled now in Basel, he is involved in a complex of professional activities on the broader European, American and Australia/Pacific musical scene. He frequently deputizes in the Basel region and thus presides over organs as widely varied as the "swallow's nest" instrument (emulating Tugi 1487-93) at the Predigerkirche, and the 1921 Späth instrument at the Heiliggeistkirche. His regular position is at Herz Jesu Church in Laufen (Kuhn 1981, 41/III+P). The scope of his work has been wide, including writing and performing the music for the first Swiss production of the Brazilian Ariano Suassuna's play "Das Testament des Hundes" (The Dog's Will - "Schwarze Gigger" theatre company at Allschwil). Apart from numerous recitals he has also appeared as soloist in a Handel Organ Concerto (with the Chamber Orchestra of Jura), Mozart's "Organ Solo Mass" (Heiliggeistkirche, Basel) and taken part in concerts with a number of German and Swiss choirs. He played the opening recital of the 2007 Laufen Organ Festival and directed the following festival in 2010.
David Rumsey is the author of many articles about organs and a partner in writing an organ lexicon. He has served on many advisory committees in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Amongst these projects has been involvement with important historic restorations - including the 1874 Walker at St. Stephen's, Newtown (Sydney), the 1737/1799 Nacchini/Callido at San Martino (Venice) and the Welte organ at Seewen (Solothurn, Switzerland). He has also been responsible for new organs at Christ Church (Vienna), St. Alban's Church, Epping, and the "Bach" organ at Abbotsleigh, Wahroonga (the last two in Sydney).
Apart from his numerous concerts, consultancies, lectures and symposium participation (France, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Australia, United States, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and, in 2016, the Czech Republic), David Rumsey has taken important initiatives spanning a wide range of organ specialities. These run from medieval organ music - including the construction of his own "gothic positive" and involvement in the "van Eyck" and related projects - to acting as musical director for the award-winning "Britannic Organ" series of historic roll recordings. He is a Senior Researcher at the Bern University of the Arts.
© David Rumsey 2009, 2010 and ongoing