|"Max". Photo: BBC Media Centre|
Peter Maxwell Davies has died at the age of 81. He was a powerful, trenchant, inspiring, gritty, determined, high-spirited, outspoken, eloquent, humorous, startling, original, fabulous, push-the-boat-out composer of our times. He will be desperately and profoundly missed.
Farewell, Max. We loved you very much and you have touched our lives deeply. You live on in your music.
Biography from Intermusica:
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE (1934–2016)
It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, at the age of 81.
One of the foremost composers of our time, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies made a profound contribution to musical history in the UK and beyond through his wide-ranging and prolific output.
Recognised as a successor to the avant-garde generation of Ligeti, Lutosławski, Berio and Xenakis, as well as a composer of a distinctly British hue, Sir Peter’s output embraces every conceivable classical genre from symphonies and concertos to opera, music theatre, ballet, film, choral and more.
He was also an experienced conductor, holding the position of Associate Conductor/Composer at both the BBC Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic orchestras for 10 years, and guest-conducting orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus and Philharmonia. He enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as Composer Laureate.
Born in Salford, Lancashire on 8 September 1934, Sir Peter attended Royal Manchester College of Music (now Royal Northern College of Music) where he was part of the so-called Manchester School with contemporaries Harrison Birtwistle, John Ogdon, Elgar Howarth, Richard Hall 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 Sir Peter moved to the Orkney Islands, the place which would be 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 with Orkney residents at its heart.
Sir Peter had a lifelong commitment to community outreach and education, writing much music for young people; his children’s operaThe Hogboon will receive its world premiere in June 2016 with Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at the Barbican. His keen sense of social responsibility was threaded through 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. In February 2016, Sir Peter was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal, the highest accolade the society can bestow, in recognition of outstanding musicianship.
Max (to all who knew him) passed away of leukaemia on 14 March 2016 at his home in Orkney. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this time.