Personalities | (Sir) Peter Maxwell Davies | Contemporary | Classical

b. 1934
English composer

Early use of serialism (Trumpet Sonata, 1955) led Davies to a less systematic method of composing with smaller sets of pitches (Prolation, 1958). Alongside this grew a fascination for the pre-Baroque. Davies makes particular use of plainsong themes, which he then subjects to quasi-serial transformations. A peculiar leaning towards parody was central to Davies’s early work. In Eight Songs for a Mad King (1968) the ravings of George III are provoked by crazed adaptations of music from the period, an effect enhanced by having the musicians perform from songbird cages on stage. In 1971 Davies moved to Orkney, where he established the St Magnus Festival and embarked on a cycle of symphonies, which culminated in 2001 with the Eighth, the Antarctic Symphony. Meanwhile his appointment in 1985 as associate composer/conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra resulted in the series of Strathclyde Concertos, completed in 1993. He served as Master of the Queen’s Musick from 2004 to 2014.

Recommended Recording:
Symphony No. 6, Time and the Raven, An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise, Royal PO (cond) Peter Maxwell Davies (Naxos)

Introduction | Contemporary | Classical
Personalities | Jonathan Dove | Contemporary | Classical


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