Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Sir Harrison Birtwistle at 80
In an exclusive encounter, two of the greatest living composers - Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Sir Harrison Birtwistle talk to each other - and to Tom Service - about their parallel lives in music and modern Britain.
First broadcast in June.
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Sir Harrison Birtwistle in conversation
In an exclusive encounter, something that hasn't happened on-air or in this depth for more than 40 years, two of the greatest living composers talk to each other - and to Tom Service - about their parallel lives in music and modern Britain. Without Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Sir Harrison Birtwistle - both celebrating their 80th birthday this year - British post-war music could not have sounded as musically powerful or as socially radical as it did in the 1950s and 60s. Together they made Manchester the hotbed of British musical modernism, but their lives as individuals and as composers have since taken very different paths. Max is now Master of the Queen's Music, and Harry is one of the most internationally revered composers working today. Bringing them together reveals how their friendship, collaboration - and their differences - make their relationship one of the most important crucibles of contemporary creativity. They discuss how they met, how their responses to medieval and renaissance music took them down parallel compositional paths; they reflect on what happened between them in 1970, when their friendship had a painful hiatus; and they both give their forceful, trenchant, and still shocking views on contemporary musical culture, from what Birtwistle calls the 'monster' of pop music to the lack of edge, of truth, in the younger generation of composers. It's a meeting that anyone interested in British musical life can't miss.