Martin Wesley-Smith was so much more than just a composer. He was a proud family-man, an inspirational teacher, a passionate joiner of causes, a political and environmental activist, an indefatigable tilter at bureaucratic windmills, a world figure recognised as a pioneer in so many areas of music, and a loyal friend.
In 1998, the citation for his Order of Australia award (AM) lauded the public figure; it cited his “services to music, as a composer, scriptwriter, children’s songwriter, lecturer, presenter of multi-media concerts and a member of various Australia Council boards and committees”.
More than that, he was my closest and longest-surviving composer friend and colleague. Until late yesterday afternoon, when he died peacefully in his home in Kangaroo Valley, NSW, after a ten-year battle with cancer.
Martin Wesley-Smith. Photo © Bridget Elliot
Martin and his twin brother Peter should have become pillars of the Adelaide Establishment. Their father Harry was Academic Registrar of the University of Adelaide and their mother Sheila presented the much-loved ABC radio program Kindergarten of the Airfor many years. (She died in 2010, just shy of her 94th birthday.) They had two other sons, Jeremy and Robert.