Avram David (born Allan Dexter Kemler), composer and trumpet player, was born in Boston on June 30, 1930. As a young child Avram studied piano with his mother, Rae Shapiro Kemler, and studied trumpet with his grandfather, Aaron Shapiro. He played the trumpet at age four.  David began studying composition at the age of twelve with Francis Judd Cooke at the New England Conservatory. At the age of the 17, his String Quartet in four movements was premiered by the Ziegler Quartet from the Boston Symphony Orchestra. From 1947-1949 David studied with Julius Hereford at Indiana University’s School of Music. David continued his composition studies with Hereford as well as Irving Fine at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood in the summer of 1948. In addition, David also studied conducting that summer with Leonard Bernstein. After studying privately with Rosalyn Brogue Henning, David attended Boston University where he earned his Bachelor’s (1955), M.A. (1956), and D.M.A. (1964) degrees. While at B.U., David studied under Hugo Norden and Gardner Read.  David’s other composition teachers included: Harold Shapero (Brandeis University, Summer 1960), Karlheinz Stockhausen (Darmstadt, Germany, Summers 1961, 1966) and Pierre Boulez while he was at Harvard.  

In 1965-1966 David was Research Fellow at Harvard University examining the relationship of spatio-graphic arts to music.  Among David’s awards are: BMI First Prize, (1958) selection of his composition ’Factorial 17, No. 1’ for the Saint Cecilia Library, Rome and Royaumont Concours (Second prize, 1965). In addition David received fellowships from Boston University (1956-1958), Brandeis University (Summer 1960), Carpenter Center, Harvard University, (1965-1966), and a National Endowment for the Arts Bicentennial Commission Grant (1975-1976). David served as a member of the  Composition Department faculty at Boston Conservatory from 1964-1973. He died on December 27, 2004 in Roslindale, MA.


Contemporary American Composers: a biographical dictionary.  Compiled by E. Ruth Anderson. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1982.

Boston Area Music Libraries. The Boston Composers Project: A Bibliography of Contemporary Music. Linda I. Solow, editor. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983.

Physical description

This collection consists of 3 volumes (scrapbooks) and approximately .5 lin. ft. of other materials.

Access to David's printed and manuscript music (1948-1992) can be found here in our online catalog.


The sister of Avram David, Raisa Newman, donated this collection to the
NEC Archives in June 2005 after David’s death the previous year.


Access to the David Collection is granted by the Archivist or Director of
Libraries. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. There are limited restrictions pertaining to this collection.  Access to David's printed and manuscript music (1948-1992) can be found here in our online catalog.


All copyrights to this collection belong to the New England Conservatory.
Permission to publish materials from this collection is granted by the Director of Libraries. This collection should be cited as: Avram David Collection in the Archives at New England Conservatory, Boston.