Vale: Martin Wesley-Smith

As I was driving down to Sydney on the weekend I heard of the death of Martin Wesley-Smith on ABC radio. While I had heard some of his compositions performed over the years I was surprised by the breadth and depth of his accomplishment. In particular his political commitment to the independence struggles of some of our closest neighbours was something that I was not aware of. In fact Jose Ramos-Horta referred to Wesley Smith as a “model political artist.” As part of the tribute the ABC played the hauntingly beautiful Morning Star Lament, a work for cello with piano which has been described as an unofficial anthem for the independence struggle in West Papua.

 – Mark Roberts

Martin Wesley-Smith in his studio in Kangaroo Valley. Photograph South Coast Register 2015

“Martin Wesley Smith was a remarkable man. He started out his career as a member of a folk trio, he became a pioneer of electronic music, an academic, and a composer of art music and music theatre. His passion for music was matched by his commitment to social justice, and in particular the plight of the East Timorese people. And yet for all his seriousness as a campaigner who Jose Ramos-Horta called a “model political artist,” Martin Wesley-Smith also had a brilliant sense of humour and an abiding love for the work of Lewis Carroll. His children’s songs are a delight and his music as a whole ranges from the quirky to the deeply moving”. – Martin Buzacott, Presenter of Mornings on ABC Classic from


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