David Teie was born into a musical family, one of a third generation of professional musicians. By the time he entered college he had set aside studies of piano, saxophone, and singing to concentrate on the cello. He worked with Stephen Kates and Berl Senofsky at the Peabody Conservatory where he received his Bachelors and Masters degrees and the Wertheimer award for cellists, and with William Pleeth in London on a Fulbright scholarship and studied composition with John Corigliano. He joined the National Symphony in 1984, eventually playing fifteen concerto performances with them, twelve with Maestro Rostopovich conducting, including performances on two U.S. tours and the first of the American Residencies. He spent the 1999 – 2000 season as acting principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony.
He composed the string music for the CD by the rock group Echobrain founded by former Metallica bassist, Jason Newsted, was commissioned by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony to write one of the Hechinger encores, Fuga Eroica which received its premiere with the NSO in February of 2004, and in November of 2005 premiered his Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra with the Anchorage Symphony. His Concerto for Flute and Strings received its premier in 2010 with the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra; David is presently the music director of that orchestra.
In 2005 -06 David developed and outlined the first comprehensive theory that attempts to explain the cognitive processes involved in our appreciation of music. Working with Charles T. Snowdon at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they studied the affect of David’s species-specific music on cotton-topped tamarin monkeys, resulting in the first controlled study that demonstrated significant and appropriate responses to music from any species other than human and was published in Biology Letters of the Royal Society. A more complete description of his theory was published by Oxford University Press in the book The Evolution of Emotional Communication. A second study was conducted by Dr. Snowdon at the University of Wisconsin- Madison testing the effectiveness of species-specific music on cats. The data were even stronger for cats than they had been for the monkeys; the results were published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science in 2015.