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Peter Maxwell Davies

 b.8 September 1934, ManchesterPeter Maxwell Davies Photo © Copyright Eamonn McCabe


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With over 200 published works in every medium which are performed worldwide, Peter Maxwell Davies is acknowledged as one of the foremost composers of our time. He lives in the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland where he writes most of his music.

His major theatrical works include the operas Taverner, The Martyrdom of St Magnus and The Doctor of Myddfai; the full-length ballet Salome; and the music theatre works Eight Songs for a Mad King, Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot and Vesalii Icones. His large output of orchestral works includes eight symphonies and thirteen concertos, as well as the highly popular An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise which was written as a commission for the Boston Pops Orchestra, and seen by millions of TV viewers all over the world at the Last Night of the Proms. He has also written a large repertoire of works for performance by children.

Maxwell Davies is also active as a conductor. He was Associate Conductor/Composer of the BBC Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras for a ten-year period, and is Composer Laureate of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, for whom he has written a series of ten Strathclyde Concertos. He has conducted many major orchestras in Europe and North America, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Russian National Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Maxwell Davies works from recent decades include the music-theatre work Mr Emmet Takes a Walk which has received over 50 performances to date, the Antarctic Symphony (Symphony No.8), jointly commissioned by the Philharmonia Orchestra and the British Antarctic Survey, and Sea Orpheus (2009) commissioned for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's Brandenburg Project. Since 2000 the composer has placed a special emphasis on music for chamber ensembles and choirs, including Seven Skies of Winter (2003) for the Nash Ensemble and a String Trio premiered at the St Magnus Festival in 2008. In 2012 Naxos embarked on a major project to reissue the composer's recordings originally made for Collins Classics in the 1990s, starting with his symphonies.

In 1987 Maxwell Davies was knighted and in 2004 he was appointed Master of the Queen's Music, in which role he seeks to raise the profile of music in Great Britain, as well as writing many works for Her Majesty the Queen and for royal occasions.

Peter Maxwell Davies is published by Boosey & Hawkes and represented by Intermusica.

June 2012

This biography can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with the following credit: Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes

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