David was born in 1953 to Stan and Bette Solomons, who provided a loving and supportive family and rich sources for creative inspiration. The family began life as a threesome at the RAF base at Yatesbury but Stan was soon called for duties abroad and the family moved on to the oriental delights of Hong Kong, which was where his sister Rachael was born.
The family finally returned to the UK with lovely memories and souvenirs of the Far East Year of the horse with ivory horse carvings Chinese New Year Celebration with fireworks and eventually settled in Rainham, Kent. David and Rachael had their primary education there and Stan and Bette taught French and dressmaking respectively in nearbye Gillingham and Sittingbourne.
As parental careers progressed, the family moved through various parts of England. David had his secondary education at the Wolverhampton Municipal Grammar School (a.k.a. the Muni),where Rachael also studied and Stan taught French - it was a curious and somewhat overcrowded establishment, which was proud to announce its "50th year in temporary accomodation" while they were there! The education at the Muni was excellent and allowed creativity to flourish.
Eventually, as the family moved on variously to West Bromwich, Oadby, London and Loughborough, David returned to Oxford, his place of birth, studied French and German at Christ Church, and then went up the hill to Westminster College to do a teaching postgrad degree, compose for the college choir Song to Idleness and experience some of his first emotional confusions… Details Virgo and Taurus
In Oxford he met lots of great musicians, two of whom had important influences on his early compositional style: the cellist Chris Benson, who introduced him to the beauties of the cello and also of the Beatles, and the guitarist Gerald Garcia, with whom he played the odd (often very odd) duet from time to time.
Of course, as singing had also become very important, he eventually picked up the knack of singing while playing classical guitar at the same time and his songs for alto and guitar represent the largest proportion of his published works even now.
He then taught English as a second language on a part-time basis in Strasbourg in a lovely hotellery school, which provided excellent food, and he continued his musical endeavours, often fuelled by further (but more fruitful) emotional confusions, Strauss aus der Frühlingszeit in all the time that was available between teaching commitments.
This Strasbourg period only lasted 8 months and he then he had to find a job back in the UK. He taught French - and, curiously, also fencing - at Oakham School for a year, but soon realised that teaching was not for him. One useful thing he did learn to do there, however, was to play double bass in the staff jazz band: after all, it's the just the bottom four strings of the guitar down an octave, innit!
So, after giving up teaching, he moved to London in 1979 and soon gravitated to the translation service of H M Customs and Excise, which turned out to be a permanent career choice, albeit only as a way to earn enough to retire early and devote his later life to his music. Much could be said about his HMC&E translation service work, but, of course, it is subject to the Official Secrets Act, so we'll gloss over it...
His vocal sight-reading had also improved enough for him to sing at a city church and he joined the choir at St Michael's Cornhill as solo Cantoris alto and he also joined other London choirs such as the Royal Choral Society and the English Chamber Choir (for whom he later wrote a steamy number called Upon my bed by night) Upon my bed by night
Those times in London were heady days, filled with lots of brainstretching sight-reading, a little matchmaking (!), lots of champagne buffets at various luxuriously appointed guild halls, and oodles of concerts to sing in. Around 20 manuscript books were also filled to the brim with compositions of various kinds, but there were no official publications as yet.
In 1991, the translation service had to move up North, so he went with them, bade farewell to St Michael's and moved quickly into the musical life of the Cathedral at Manchester, where he sang until 2005 - sometimes with the professional choir (Statutory Choir), but concentrating mainly on the Voluntary Choir, for whom he wrote a few pieces, including a Mass for Men's Voices and organ Agnus Dei from the Mass for men's voices and organ , and the Cantata Choir, who also sang pieces of his, in particular the Manchester Magnificat Manchester Magnificat and the Christmas song Alleyways.
Things then began to move relatively fast: Due to RSI, he had to stop playing guitar on a regular basis and this prompted him to write for a much wider range of musicians (chamber music, vocal music, choral music and even orchestral music). Computers also finally reached a point where he could produce good quality publishable scores on them. He soon found publishers in the UK, France and eventually also in the USA and Canada.
Collaboration between musicians, both online through groups such as La Musique Petite (a MIDI based club for the old dial-up days) and the Delian Society (founded to encourage tonal composition in a world where musical academia tended to reject it) and also offline though the North-West Composers Association (now sadly disbanded) also led to an ever widening repertoire. These have included:
- A CD with the really original title "Songs of Solomons" featuring ten songs for alto and piano CD Baby
- The CD "Wildlife in the Nursery": a pot pourri of nursery rhymes, some traditional and some original, blending David's singing with the coloratura techniques of various animals as controlled and trained by Lorin Swelk over in California, USA. CD Baby Singing Animals
- The CD "Eurasia" featuring clarinet and guitar performing music by living composers from various parts of Europe and the near East. This included Petticoat Lane and An Exmas Carol
- Various CDs by the tuba quartet Tubalaté, which include four of David's lively brass quartets in octatonic mode Henry's Tune and a peaceful interweaving prayer based on the Gregorian chant Te lucis ante terminum Prayer before the Close of day
- A CD called "Paganini L'Insolite" by a bassoon and violin duo which includes David's "Floreat Rosa Divina"
- Various download-only CDs on CDBaby and other places, including Matthew Curtis sings Choral Music by D W Solomons CD Baby and a Christmas Collaboration with Reinhold Behringer Christmas Collaboration
Other performers who have incorporated David's music in their repertoire can be seen and heard in the Musicians site
As a person with Kallmann's Syndrome Kallmann's Syndrome Wordpress Kallmann's Syndrome Site David has an unusual outlook on life, sexuality and gender. That is not to say that others with the syndrome have similar views and attitudes, everyone reacts differently and is affected by the condition to varying degrees of seriousness.
When he was born, the doctors were not sure which gender to assign him, so they took a chromosome test - found he was "XY"
- and subsequently worked on the basis that he should be male. At times David was not convinced that this was correct, but the
other options seemed like too much trouble:
1 - remaining intersex and refusing hormone treatment: this could lead to osteoporosis (nasty!), although it could also have allowed him to develop a castrato voice, which is quite rare these days and can be quite ravishing…
2 - changing to female, well the psychology wasn't really quite right for that and all the (apparently obligatory) make-up and dressing up really looked like rather too much effort not to appear like a clown.
On a Jab
Here we are again, Dawn,
My companion in complexity;
The month is past and you, poor pawn,
Must once more face perplexity.
Ouch! And in the fleshy thigh
The viscous hormone takes its space;
And you, dear Dawn, will by and by
Slow down - and lose the human race.
You it was who like to see
The lovely girls in tram and bus;
I am he, with fancy free,
Who'll bring "God's wrath" on both of us.
For, as the hormone courses through
Our common arteries and veins,
There will be less and less of you
And what you lose my lover gains.
It's dusk for Dawn, who one day thought
She'd win and make our body hers,
And dawn for me, since science brought me
Monthly maleness, jabbed by nurse!
© David W Solomons 1979
Sexual orientation has also been a somewhat choppy sea, but in the final analysis, after a long period of experimentation in thought and deed, he has come to the conclusion that he is asexual but with occasional bisexual tendencies. His girlfriend, with whom he has been friends (and occasionally rather more) for over 20 years, seems content with that. Asexual Blues
Another effect of Kallmann's syndrome (in a large proportion of those who have it) is anosmia (lack of sense of smell), so David has to rely on others to tell him when food is off or if the cats have disgraced themselves or even if there is a gas leak! He also needs to be told if a flower smells nice or if a rat has died under the floorboards in his place of work (all his colleagues abandonned the room on that occasion but David kept on working, completely unaffected by the odour). However, his sense of taste is not as impaired as some might think and his cooking is very good (approved, at least, by his girlfriend and many other visitors) - although he does tend to overspice food at times, presumably to make up for the lack of smell.
One thing which "nosmics" don't understand about anosmics is that there are two types of smell
1 - the "sophisticated" version which is controlled by the olfactory lobe and can allow nosmics to identify subtle differences and
2 - a more basic and primitive version of both taste and smell which is controlled by the trigeminal structure Flavor Wiki. Although it is associated more with taste it does also allow even anosmics to identify - for example - the sharp effect of vinegar even before putting it in the mouth. From an evolutionary standpoint, the trigeminal sensory structure is probably useful in allowing creatures to avoid potentially dangerous situations such as fires, and this still works even in anosmics - we hope!
The fact that David can (often) detect fresh smoke (but not smoke that has lingered in clothing etc) has probably been one of the reasons for his loathing of smokers - this probably started off with his grandfather's insistence on filling rooms with the malodorous stench of cigarettes. After all, if there is nothing to smell and then suddenly something impinges on the senses but it is horrible and triggers a subconscious primitive trigeminal "danger-reaction", who can blame him for being negative about it? La Cigarette
Kallmann's also has a physical effect in the growth of the body: David was always quite small at school and his reaction was to reject and hate all forms of sport, both as a boy and later as an adult. This of course is not typical of all small people, it was just a personal reaction. A (mercifully lost) early poem called "Balls" summed that up!
Also, of course, it meant that David's voice didn't break until the age of 21 - and even after hormone treatment had induced the breaking of the voice he still prefers the higher vocal ranges for singing, using chest voice mainly for speaking (and just occasionally singing bass, when requested, in choirs where men are sparse). This has resulted in a wide vocal range to choose from (top alto E down to bass bottom D flat) and, with the advent of multitrack recording, he has been able to create a one-man choir called the dwsChorale.
Another effect of Kallmann's, of course, is infertility: although some people with a less serious version of the condition have responded to fertility treatment, it wouldn't work in this case: a recent scan failed to find even the minutest trace of gonads in the body … He realised he was infertile even at the tender age of 16 and simply got used to the idea that children were not for him. His children are his musical works. Song of the Childless
See also: Voices from the Past
Although being a person with Kallmann's doesn't necessarily have to result in this particular personality, it certainly has done here. There are still many unanswered questions: Does the condition affect the ability to respond to pheromones or to produce oxytocin, for example? Could David therefore appear a bit introverted (or even "stand-offish" at times) as a direct result of the condition or is it simply something in his general nature that can't be blamed on Kallmann's? Does it have to result in depression - it certainly does in some people who have this condition, but regular testosterone treatment appears to have allowed David to keep a balanced mind. (Depression did set in on a couple of brief occasions but they were probably both due to low levels of testosterone - which had,for various reasons, been induced intentionally).
Secondary question: If there is such a thing as a soul, is it independent from the physical body? If it is independent then it must react differently from the physical person whom we have come to know because physical conditions affecting the body will not affect it. If it reacts differently, it cannot be the person we know, it must be an essence, a spirit, something to which we physical beings cannot relate…
Answers on a postcard…