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Peter Maxwell Davies

Sue Lawley's castaway is composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Sue Lawley's castaway this week is Peter Maxwell Davies.

He is one of Britain's greatest living composers. His career has seen him go from enfant terrible and champion of new music, writing pieces such as Worldes Blis and Eight Songs for a Mad King, to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen's Music. Peter Maxwell Davies was born in Salford, near Manchester, in 1934. Whilst studying at Manchester University and the Royal Manchester College of Music he formed the key friendships which were to influence his musical career - with Harrison Birtwhistle, Elgar Howarth, Alexander Goehr and John Ogdon. It was during the 60s that Peter composed some of his most influential works - including often cacophonous, expressionist pieces like Vesalii Icones, St. Thomas Wake and Worldes Blis. Music-theatre pieces like Eight Songs were groundbreaking in their use of drama, as well as music. He is fascinated by the mathematical structures and patterns that exist in nature - and tries to replicate them in his music. For more than 30 years he has lived on and been inspired by the Isles of Orkney where, he says, the sounds that surround him creep into his music almost without him knowing it.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Victimae Paschali Laudes by The Benedictine Monks of Silos
Book: Sanskrit dictionary
Alternative to Bible: Bhagavad-Gita
Luxury: Copper plate engravings of Durer's Passion

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 4 Feb 2005 09:00

Music Played

  • Castaway's Favourite

    • The monks of the Benedictine Monastry of Santo Domingo de Silos

      Victimae Paschali Laudes

      • Canto Live.
      • EMI.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Symphony No. 38 in D major 'Prague' - 1st movement

    Orchestra: Staatskapelle Dresden Conductor: Sir Colin Davis

    • Mozart: Symphonies Nos 35 & 38.
    • Philips.
  • John Dowland

    Lachrimae Antiquae

    Orchestra: Parley of Instruments Renaissance Violin Consort Conductor: Peter Holman

    • Lachrimae or Seaven Teares.
    • Hyperion.
  • The Beatles


    • Help.
    • Parlophone.
  • Alexander Goehr

    Little Symphony, Op 15

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Colin Davis

    • Tippett: Concerto for Orchestra/A.Goehr: Little Symphony.
    • Philips.
  • George Mackay Brown

    The Old Woman

    • George Mackay Brown reads his poems.
    • Cloddagh Records.
  • The Band of the Royal Engineers

    Stafford Yeomanry

    • The Founders.
    • Chevron.
  • Dmitry Shostakovich

    Symphony No. 9 in E flat major

    Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Vladimir Ashkenazy

    • Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos 9 & 15.
    • Decca.
  • Book Choice

    • Sanskrit dictionary

  • Luxury Choice

    • Copper plate engravings of Durer’s Passion


Role Contributor
Presenter Sue Lawley
Interviewed Guest Peter Maxwell Davies


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