Skip to main content
Select Source:

Maxwell Davies, (Sir) Peter

Maxwell Davies, (Sir) Peter (b Salford, 1934). Eng. composer, conductor, and teacher. With Birtwistle, Goehr, and Ogdon, known as Manchester School. In 1957 won It. Govt. scholarship and studied in Rome with Petrassi. His Prolation won Olivetti Prize 1958 and was f.p. ISCM fest., Rome 1959. Mus. dir. Cirencester Grammar Sch. 1959–62. Resident composer Adelaide Univ. 1966. In 1967 was founder and co-dir. of chamber ens., Pierrot Players, formed to perf. contemp. works; this was reorganized 1971 as The Fires of London (disbanded 1987), for which many of Maxwell Davies's works have been written. Since 1970 he has lived intermittently in Orkney, where the landscape and solitude have had an undoubted effect on his music, notably in the chamber opera The Martyrdom of St Magnus and the syms. He founded the St Magnus Fest. in 1977 and was art. dir. 1977–86. In 1986 received commission from Strathclyde local authority for 10 concs. for soloists from SCO. Mus. dir., Dartington Hall summer sch. 1979–84.

Maxwell Davies soon became one of the most important of the Eng. so-called avant-garde. Like Britten, he has enjoyed writing for specific performers and his wide-ranging imagination has devised striking sounds, freakish perhaps but always springing from a genuine mus. impulse. Rhythms are sometimes complex, vocal lines angular. He developed music theatre, staged pieces for a single performer, as in the remarkable Eight Songs for a Mad King. His music is marked also by a strong dramatic impulse which found full outlet in the operas Taverner and The Lighthouse. He has been inspired by the ability to combine and contrast the music of medieval times with his own idiom, and has also made much use of the 1920s fox-trot rhythm for nostalgic purposes. CBE 1981. Knighted 1987. Appointed Master of the Queen's Music 2004. Prin. works:OPERAS: Taverner (1962–70, rev. 1983); The Martyrdom of St Magnus (1976–7); The Two Fiddlers (children's opera) (1978); The Lighthouse (1979);Resurrection (1987); Redemption (1988); The Doctor of Myddfai (1993–6).THEATRE PIECES: Notre Dame des Fleurs, sop., mez., counterten., ens. (1966); Vesalii Icones (Images from Vesalius), dancer, vc., ens. (1969); Eight Songs for a Mad King, male v., ens. (1969); Blind Man's Buff, sop., mez., mime, stage band (1972); Miss Donnithorne's Maggot, mez., ens. (1974); Le Jongleur de Notre Dame, mime, bar., ens., children's band (1978); Cinderella (for children) (1980); The Medium, mez. (1981); The Rainbow (for children) (1981); The No.11 Bus, mez., ten., bar., 2 dancers, mime, ens. (1983–4); The Great Bank Robbery (for children) (1989); Jupiter Landing (for children) (1989); Dinosaur At Large (for children) (1989); Dangerous Errand (for children) (1990); The Spiders' Revenge (for very young children) (1991); A Selkie Tale (for children) (1992).BALLETS: Salome (1978); Caroline Mathilde (1990).ORCH.: syms: No.1 (1973–6), No.2 (1980), No.3 (1984), No.4 (1989), No.5 (1993–4), No.6 (1995–6); Prolation (1958); 5 Klee Pictures (1959, rev. 1976); Fantasia on an In Nomine of John Taverner: 1st (1962), 2nd (1964); St Thomas Wake (1969); Worldes Blis (1969); A Mirror of Whitening Light (1977); Dances from ‘Salome’ (1979); An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise (1985); vn. conc. (1985); Jimmack the Postie (1986); tpt. conc. (1988); Ojai Festival Overture (1991); Caroline Mathilde, suite (1991); Sir Charles: his Pavan (1992); A Spell for Green Corn: the MacDonald Dances (1993); Chat Moss (1993); Cross Lane Fair (1994); The Beltane Fire, choreographic poem (1994–5).STRATHCLYDE CONCERTOS: No.1, ob. (1987), No.2, vc. (1988), No.3, hn., tpt. (1989), No.4, cl. (1990), No.5, vn., va. (1991), No.6, fl. (1991), No.7, db. (1992), No.8, bn. (1993), No.9, chamber (1994), No.10, orch. (1995).VOICE(S) & ORCH. OR CHAMBER ENS.: 5 Motets, SCTB soloists, double ch., instr. (1959); O magnum mysterium, cycle of carols, ch., instr., org. (1960); Te Lucis ante Terminum, ch., chamber orch. (1961); Frammenti di Leopardi, cantata, sop., cont., instr. (1962); Veni Sancte Spiritus, sop., cont., bass, ch., orch. (1963); Ecce Manus Tradentis, ch., instr. (1965); Revelation and Fall, sop., 16 instr. (1965); The Shepherd's Calendar, young vv., instr. (1965); Missa super ‘L'Homme Armé’, speaker, ens. (1967–8, rev. 1971); From Stone to Thorn, mez., chamber ens. (1971); Hymn to St Magnus, sop., chamber ens. (1972); Fool's Fanfare, sop., ens. (1972); Tenebrae super Gesualdo, mez., gui., chamber ens. (1972); Stone Litany, mez., orch. (1973); Fiddlers at the Wedding, mez., chamber ens. (1973–4); My Lady Lothian's Lilt, mez., ens. (1975); Anakreontika, Gr. songs, mez., instr. (1976); The Blind Fiddler, sop., instr. (1976); Kirkwall Shopping Songs, children's vv., instr., pf. (1979); Black Pentecost, mez., bar., instr. (1979); Solstice of Light, ten., ch., org. (1979); Into the Labyrinth, ten., orch. (1983); Agnus Dei, 2 sop., va., vc. (1984); First Ferry to Hoy, children's ch., ens. (1985); Excuse me, v., ens. (1986); Winterfold, mez., ens. (1986); The Three Kings, sop., mez., ten., bar., ch., orch. (1994–5).CHAMBER ENS.: Alma Redemptoris Mater, 6 wind instr. (1957); St Michael, sonata, 17 wind instr. (1957); Ricercar and Doubles, 8 instr. (1959); Sinfonia, chamber orch. (1962); 7 In Nomine (1963–5); Shakespeare Music (1964); Antechrist (1967); Stedman Caters (1968); Eram quasi agnus, motet, instr. (1969); Points and Dances from ‘Taverner’ (1970); Canon in Memory of Igor Stravinsky (1972); Renaissance Scottish Dances (1973); Psalm 124 (1974); Ave Maris Stella (1975); Runes from a Holy Island (1977); Our Father Whiche in Heaven Art (1977); Dances from ‘The Two Fiddlers’ (1978); A Welcome to Orkney (1980); The Bairns of Brugh (1981); Image, Reflection, Shadow (1982); Sinfonia Concertante (1982); Sinfonietta Accademica (1983); Unbroken Circle (1984); Mishkenot (1988).SOLO VOICE(S) & ONE INSTR.: Shall I Die for Mannis Sake?, sop., alto, pf. (1965); Dark Angels, sop., guitar (1974); The Yellow Cake Revue, 6 cabaret songs, v., pf. (1980); The Medium, mez. (1981); Tractus, v., gui. (1990).VOICES ONLY (SATB unless specified): 4 Carols (1962); The Lord's Prayer (1962); Ave, Plena Gracia, with opt. org. (1964); 5 Carols, women's vv. (1966); Ave Rex Angelorum, with opt. org. (1976); Westerlings (1977); Songs of Hoy (1981); Seven Songs Home (1981); Lullabye for Lucy (1981); One Star at Last (1984); Hallelujah! the Lord God Almightie, with org. (1989); Apple-Basket, Apple-Blossom (1990); Hymn to the Word of God, tenor soloists, SATB ch. (1990); Corpus Christi, with Cat and Mouse (1993); A Hoy Calendar (1993).CHAMBER MUSIC: Sonata, tpt., pf. (1955); cl. sonata (1956–7); Sextet (1958); str. qt. (1961); Solita, fl. with mus. box (1966); Hymnos, cl., pf. (1967); Stedman Doubles, cl., perc. (1968); Bell Tower (Turris Campanarum Sonantium), perc. (1971); Ara Coeli: Lullaby for Ilian Rainbow, gui. (1972); The Door of the Sun, va. (1975); The Kestrel paced round the Sun, fl. (1975); The Seven Brightnesses, cl. in B♭ (1975); 3 Studies for Percussion (1975); Nocturne, alto fl. (1979); Little Quartets, str., No.1 (1980), No.2 (1981); sonatina, tpt. (1981); Hill Runes, gui. (1981); 2 Gesualdo Motets, brass quintet (1982); The Pole Star, brass quintet (1982); 4 Tallis Voluntaries, brass quintet (1982); Sea Eagle, hn. (1982); Birthday Music for John, fl., va., vc. (1983); sonatine, vn., cimbalom (1984); gui. sonata (1984); For Grace of Light, ob. (1991).PIANO: 5 Pieces (1956); 5 Little Pieces (1967); Sub tuam protectionem (1970); Ut Re Mi (1971); Stevie's Ferry to Hoy (1976); 4 Lessons for 2 Keyboards (1978); Sonata (1980–1).ORGAN: 3 Preludes (1976); sonata (1982).BRASS BAND: March: The Pole Star (1982); 4 Tallis Voluntaries (1982); 2 Gesualdo Motets (1982).REALIZATIONS: Purcell: Fantasia on a Ground and 2 Pavans, chamber ens. (1968), Fantasia on One Note, instr. (1973); Gabrieli: Canzona, wind and str. (1969); Buxtehude: Cantata: Also hat Gott die Welt geliebet, sop., fl., vn., vc., hpd. (1971); J. S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C♯ minor, instr. (1972), Prelude and Fugue in C♯ major, instr. (1974); Dunstable: Veni Sancte Spiritus, instr. (1972); Kinloch: Kinloch His Fantassie, instr. (1976); Anon.: Scottish 16th cent.: 4 Instrumental Motets, instr. (1973–7), Renaissance Scottish Dances, instr. (1973).MISC.: The Devils, mus. for K. Russell film (1971); The Boy Friend, mus for K. Russell film and arrs. of Wilson's songs from musical (1971).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Maxwell Davies, (Sir) Peter." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Maxwell Davies, (Sir) Peter." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/maxwell-davies-sir-peter

"Maxwell Davies, (Sir) Peter." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/maxwell-davies-sir-peter

Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (dā´vĬs), 1934–, English composer and conductor, b. Salford. He was co-founder (1967) of the Pierrot Players instrumental ensemble, later reinvented as the Fires of London (1970–87), which he directed and for which he wrote many pieces, e.g., the highly emotional Eight Songs for a Mad King (1969), probably his best-known work. He has composed in numerous idioms and moods, from early expressionist works to later more lyrical and reflective pieces; his interest in medieval and Renaissance music is clear in Shakespeare Music (1964) and other compositions. Extremely prolific, Davies has written choral works, e.g., O magnum mysterium (1960); operas, e.g., The Lighthouse (1980), The Doctor of Myddfai (1996), and Kommilitonen! (2011); several symphonies, e.g., Antarctic Symphony (2002); and numerous concerti, vocal works, chamber music, theater pieces, and other compositions. He has served as conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Glasgow (1985–94), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London (1992–2000), and the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester (1992–2001); from 2004 to 2014 he was Master of the Queen's Music. He was knighted in 1987.

See biography by M. Seabrook (1994) and bio-bibliography by C. Smith (1995); studies by S. Pruslin, ed. (1979), P. Griffiths (1981), R. McGregor, ed. (2001), and S. Craggs, ed. (2003).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/davies-sir-peter-maxwell

"Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/davies-sir-peter-maxwell

Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell

Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell (1934– ) British composer. Prolific and varied in his compositions, he has written seven operas, including Taverner (1970), The Martyrdom of St Magnus (1976), and Resurrection (1987). His symphonies include the Antarctic Symphony (2000, Symphony No.8). Much of his work, reflects the landscape and culture of his adopted home, the remote Orkney Islands, n Scotland.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/davies-sir-peter-maxwell

"Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/davies-sir-peter-maxwell

Davies, Peter Maxwell

Davies, Peter Maxwell. See Maxwell Davies, Peter.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Davies, Peter Maxwell." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Davies, Peter Maxwell." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/davies-peter-maxwell

"Davies, Peter Maxwell." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/davies-peter-maxwell