Lives Remembered

Daniel Barkley: Gifted young composer was 'beautiful and fragile soul whose music brought happiness to so many'

Daniel Barkley died aged 28 on January 11

DANIEL Barkley's sudden death aged 28 has robbed the world of classical music of one of its most talented young composers.

The Carrickfergus man's works have been performed across Ireland and around the world and he had built a reputation as a prolific and gifted contemporary musician.

The huge number of messages received by his family since his death on January 11 have also brought home the impact his gentle, generous personality had on everyone he met.

His brother Michael described him as "a beautiful and fragile soul whose being, company, wit and foremost music brought happiness to so many".

Daniel and his four siblings grew up listening to their parents' recordings of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and other classical greats and he began playing the piano, cello and guitar while at Model Primary School.

By his early teens he was composing and he completed degrees in music at Queen's University and had almost finished a PdD at the time of his death.

An admirer of John Williams and Henri Dutilleux, his compositions combined original ideas with a simple love of melody. Having played in a rock group and brass band with Michael - his favourite act was Queen - he was always conscious of his music remaining accessible.

Daniel was twice shortlisted for the Peter Rosser Composition Award, in memory of the acclaimed Belfast composer who died aged 44 in 2016, and his works were regularly performed by the city's Hard Rain SoloistEnsemble. A concert dedicated to him last night at the Crescent Arts Centred featured two of his works - ‘Cadenzas from an Invisible Concerto’ and ‘Five go to the Mystery Moor’.

Hard Rain artistic director Greg Caffrey said he was "no ordinary composer, no ordinary musician and no ordinary person".

"He was knowledgable, inquisitive and thoughtful about music, but above all Danny was the kind of gentle person who people enjoyed being around. The sense of fun in his music was a reflection of his character and personality."

Away from music Daniel was passionate about tennis, travelling to see his idol Roger Federer and other stars at Wimbledon, and he adored the three cats who shared his parents' home.

His family have been open about the mental health problems he suffered through much of his life, although they did not play a role in his sudden death at home - the exact medical cause has yet to be determined.

A JustGiving page has been set up online to direct donations to the charity MindWise so that others facing similar struggles can benefit from his legacy.

Daniel John Barkley is survived by his parents David and Joyce and siblings Michael, Matthew, Rachel and Andrew.

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Lives Remembered