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Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Tom Service with a tribute to the composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Leading figures in the musical world assess his life and music.

Tom Service presents a tribute to the composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Leading figures in the musical world assess his life and music, including the writer and broadcaster Paul Driver, conductor Oliver Knussen and composer Alexander Goehr. Plus we hear from Max himself, in an interview from his home in the Orkney Islands, recorded in 2009.

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45 minutes

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE (1934-2016)

Tom Service presents a tribute to the composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. One of the foremost British composers of our time, Peter Maxwell Davies has made a profound contribution to musical history through his wide-ranging and prolific output.

Leading figures in the musical world assess his life and music, including the conductor Oliver Knussen who attended many of his premieres then became a good friend and associate; the composer Alexander Goehr, one of the formative group of musicians who studied together in Manchester; and the music critic Paul Driver who grew up listening to Maxwell Davies’ music before starting out on his journalism career.  Plus contributions from some of the musicians he worked with from the outset: Philippa Davies and Stephen Pruslin.  And we hear insights from ‘Max’ himself, in a Music Matters interview from his home in the Orkney Islands, recorded in 2009.

Maxwell Davies’ output has been prolific, taking up the mantle of the avant-garde in his early years with chamber and music theatre works, and later producing symphonies, concertos, an entire cycle of string quartets, choral works, operas and more.

He was also an experienced conductor, having a close relationship with the BBC Philharmonic as Associate Conductor/Composer for 10 years, and also with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  Many of his orchestral works received their premieres at the BBC Proms.

Born in Salford in 1934, Sir Peter attended Royal Manchester College of Music where he was part of the so-called Manchester School with contemporaries Harrison Birtwistle, John Ogdon, Elgar Howarth, and Alexander Goehr. He later secured a Fellowship at Princeton where he studied with Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt. The 1960s were an especially formative decade, establishing him as a leading contemporary musical figure.

In 1971 Maxwell Davies moved to the Orkney Islands, where he made his home for the rest of his life. The landscape and culture had a deep impact on his music and in 1977 he founded the St Magnus Festival, an annual event and just one of several ways in which he has put his deep commitment to education and community music to good use. He has also been outspoken in the public arena, with many of his works touching on major issues such as war, the environment and politics.

Sir Peter held the post of Master of the Queen’s Music from 2004–2014. He was knighted in 1987 and made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the New Year 2014 Honours List.

More information:
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Radio 3: Celebrating Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Music Matters interview with Peter Maxwell Davies and Harrison Birtwistle
Upcoming performances of Peter Maxwell Davies’s works
BBC Philharmonic play Peter Maxwell Davies in Radio 3 in Concert
Peter Maxwell Davies at Intermusica
“Peter Maxwell Davies: Master and Maverick” will be broadcast on BBC Four on Friday 1st April.

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Tom Service
Interviewed Guest Paul Driver

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