Peter Maxwell Davies (1934-2016)

Episodes

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01Farewell To Stromness20170313

Donald Macleod on how the landscape and myths of Orkney impacted Maxwell Davies's music.

Donald Macleod explores the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, who died a year ago this week at the age of 81. The contribution this former Master of the Queen's Music has made to the musical life of our islands is incalculable. He was a hugely prolific composer, performer and teacher. Born in Salford in the 1930s, one of the composer's first musical memories was listening to foxtrot records under his parents' staircase as the bombs were falling during the Second World War. In the 1960s he was considered the 'enfant terrible' of new British music, writing the soundtrack for Ken Russell's controversial film 'The Devils' and even provoking an audience walk-out during the BBC Proms. However his music and life was to change as he came under the spell of the Orkney islands, which he first visited in the early 1970s before moving there a few years later for the rest of his life.

Donald Macleod twice visited the composer in Orkney, and begins the week with an exploration of how the islands' landscape, history, environment, myths and its people inspired his work.

Farewell to Stromness

Peter Maxwell Davies, piano

Symphony No.1 (second movement)

Philharmonia Orchestra

Simon Rattle, conductor

Martyrdom of St Magnus (excerpt)

Earl Magnus, Christopher Gillett (tenor)

Herald of Earl Magnus, Peter Thomson (tenor)

Earl Hakon, Kelvin Thomas (baritone)

Herald of Earl Hakon, Richard Morris (baritone)

Music Theatre Wales with the Scottish Chamber Opera Ensemble

Michael Rafferty, conductor

Black Pentecost (second movement)

Della Jones, mezzo soprano

David Wilson-Johnson, baritone

BBC Philharmonic

Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor

A Spell for Greencorn: The MacDonald Dances (excerpt)

James Clark, violin

02Back To The Future20170314

How Peter Maxwell Davies shocked 1960s audiences with his uncompromising music.

BBC Radio 3 explores the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, who died a year ago this week at the age of 81. The contribution this former Master of the Queen's Music had made to the musical life of these islands as a hugely prolific composer, performer and teacher, is incalculable. Born in Salford in the 1930s, one of the composer's first musical memories was listening to foxtrot records under his parents' staircase as the bombs were falling during the Second World War. In the 1960s he was considered the 'enfant terrible' of new British music, writing the soundtrack for Ken Russell's controversial film 'The Devils' and even provoking an audience walk-out during the BBC Proms. However his music and life was to change as he came under the spell of the desolate Orkney islands, which he first visited in the early 1970s before moving there a few years later for the rest of his life.

In 1953 Peter Maxwell Davies went to Manchester University to study music. The Professor of Composition had two pieces of advice for the budding composer - 'don't listen to anything before 1550' and 'no music after Delius is worth bothering with'. It was advice that Maxwell Davies pointedly ignored as he pored over volumes of Tudor sacred music as well as studying the latest avant-garde techniques in Europe. From the sad incarceration of George III to the story of Tudor composer John Taverner, Donald Macleod takes a look at how Maxwell Davies' modern treatment of historical subjects and musical forms both enchanted and enraged 1960s concert-goers.

Suite from The Devils, Sister Jeanne's Vision

Aquarius

Nicholas Cleobury, conductor

Five Pieces for Piano, Op.2

John Ogdon, piano

Points and Dances from Act 2 of Taverner

The Fires of London

Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor

Pavans 1 and 2 from Fantasia and Two Pavans

Eight Songs for a Mad King (excerpts)

Julius Eastman (singer)

Worldes Blis (sixth movement)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

How Peter Maxwell Davies shocked 1960s audiences with his uncompromising music.

BBC Radio 3 explores the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, who died a year ago this week at the age of 81. The contribution this former Master of the Queen's Music had made to the musical life of these islands as a hugely prolific composer, performer and teacher, is incalculable. Born in Salford in the 1930s, one of the composer's first musical memories was listening to foxtrot records under his parents' staircase as the bombs were falling during the Second World War. In the 1960s he was considered the 'enfant terrible' of new British music, writing the soundtrack for Ken Russell's controversial film 'The Devils' and even provoking an audience walk-out during the BBC Proms. However his music and life was to change as he came under the spell of the desolate Orkney islands, which he first visited in the early 1970s before moving there a few years later for the rest of his life.

In 1953 Peter Maxwell Davies went to Manchester University to study music. The Professor of Composition had two pieces of advice for the budding composer - 'don't listen to anything before 1550' and 'no music after Delius is worth bothering with'. It was advice that Maxwell Davies pointedly ignored as he pored over volumes of Tudor sacred music as well as studying the latest avant-garde techniques in Europe. From the sad incarceration of George III to the story of Tudor composer John Taverner, Donald Macleod takes a look at how Maxwell Davies' modern treatment of historical subjects and musical forms both enchanted and enraged 1960s concert-goers.

Suite from The Devils, Sister Jeanne's Vision

Aquarius

Nicholas Cleobury, conductor

Five Pieces for Piano, Op.2

John Ogdon, piano

Points and Dances from Act 2 of Taverner

The Fires of London

Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor

Pavans 1 and 2 from Fantasia and Two Pavans

Eight Songs for a Mad King (excerpts)

Julius Eastman (singer)

Worldes Blis (sixth movement)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

03Music For All20170315

The composer's mission to break down barriers between composer, performer and audience.

BBC Radio 3 explores the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, who died a year ago this week at the age of 81. The contribution this former Master of the Queen's Music had made to the musical life of these islands as a hugely prolific composer, performer and teacher, is incalculable. Born in Salford in the 1930s, one of the composer's first musical memories was listening to foxtrot records under his parents' staircase as the bombs were falling during the Second World War. In the 1960s he was considered the 'enfant terrible' of new British music, writing the soundtrack for Ken Russell's controversial film 'The Devils' and even provoking an audience walk-out during the BBC Proms. However his music and life was to change as he came under the spell of the desolate Orkney islands, which he first visited in the early 1970s before moving there a few years later for the rest of his life.

Haunted by the lack of music education in his own schooling, Peter Maxwell Davies was a man on a mission. As Director of Music at Cirencester Grammar School from 1959-1962 he transformed how music was taught in schools in Britain. He encouraged pupils of all musical ability to take part and inspired children to play and perform music that they had composed themselves. Donald Macleod looks at the music Maxwell Davies wrote specifically for the school orchestra and choir as well as the later works written for education and community project in the Orkneys. Central to his musical philosophy was that there should be no barriers between composer, performer and audience - a philosophy he put to the test in a series of works for instrumental soloist and chamber orchestra, the Strathclyde Concertos.

The Crusader, from Five Klee Pictures

Philharmonia Orchestra

Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor

O Magnum Mysterium

Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Ensemble

Choir of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh

Matthew Owens, conductor

Dances from The Two Fiddlers

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Seven Songs Home

Strathclyde Concerto No.7, for Double Bass and Orchestra (second movement)

Duncan McTier, double bass

The composer's mission to break down barriers between composer, performer and audience.

BBC Radio 3 explores the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, who died a year ago this week at the age of 81. The contribution this former Master of the Queen's Music had made to the musical life of these islands as a hugely prolific composer, performer and teacher, is incalculable. Born in Salford in the 1930s, one of the composer's first musical memories was listening to foxtrot records under his parents' staircase as the bombs were falling during the Second World War. In the 1960s he was considered the 'enfant terrible' of new British music, writing the soundtrack for Ken Russell's controversial film 'The Devils' and even provoking an audience walk-out during the BBC Proms. However his music and life was to change as he came under the spell of the desolate Orkney islands, which he first visited in the early 1970s before moving there a few years later for the rest of his life.

Haunted by the lack of music education in his own schooling, Peter Maxwell Davies was a man on a mission. As Director of Music at Cirencester Grammar School from 1959-1962 he transformed how music was taught in schools in Britain. He encouraged pupils of all musical ability to take part and inspired children to play and perform music that they had composed themselves. Donald Macleod looks at the music Maxwell Davies wrote specifically for the school orchestra and choir as well as the later works written for education and community project in the Orkneys. Central to his musical philosophy was that there should be no barriers between composer, performer and audience - a philosophy he put to the test in a series of works for instrumental soloist and chamber orchestra, the Strathclyde Concertos.

The Crusader, from Five Klee Pictures

Philharmonia Orchestra

Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor

O Magnum Mysterium

Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Ensemble

Choir of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh

Matthew Owens, conductor

Dances from The Two Fiddlers

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Seven Songs Home

Strathclyde Concerto No.7, for Double Bass and Orchestra (second movement)

Duncan McTier, double bass

04Island Life20170316

How the landscape and people of the Orkney Islands influenced Maxwell Davies's music.

Donald Macleod explores the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, who died a year ago this week at the age of 81. The contribution this former Master of the Queen's Music had made to the musical life of these islands as a hugely prolific composer, performer and teacher, is incalculable. Born in Salford in the 1930s, one of the composer's first musical memories was listening to foxtrot records under his parents' staircase as the bombs were falling during the Second World War. In the 1960s he was considered the 'enfant terrible' of new British music, writing the soundtrack for Ken Russell's controversial film 'The Devils' and even provoking an audience walk-out during the BBC Proms. However his music and life was to change as he came under the spell of the desolate Orkney islands, which he first visited in the early 1970s before moving there a few years later for the rest of his life.

Composing in a small crofthouse overlooking the dramatic seascapes of Rackwick Bay on the isle of Hoy to the sounds of the wind and sea, it was inevitable that the landscape would influence his music. Maxwell Davies was obsessed with the wave forms he could see through his window and devised a mathematical formula that reflected their different forms which provided the musical basis of his Second Symphony. Presenter Donald Macleod, who visited the composer twice in the Orkneys, also looks at how old Scottish tales of the sea provided inspiration as well as a unexpected visit from a rare sea bird and a dramatic sunrise under the influence of whisky.

Golden Whale, Ancient Trust and 3 Seascapes - from Westerlings

BBC Singers

Simon Joly, conductor

Symphony No.2 (fourth movement)

BBC Philharmonic

Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor

Sea Eagle (first movement)

Michael Thompson, horn

The Lighthouse (excerpt)

Neil Mackie, Sandy

Christopher Keyte, Blaze

Ian Comboy, Arthur

An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise

George McIlwham, bagpipes

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

How the landscape and people of the Orkney Islands influenced Maxwell Davies's music.

Donald Macleod explores the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, who died a year ago this week at the age of 81. The contribution this former Master of the Queen's Music had made to the musical life of these islands as a hugely prolific composer, performer and teacher, is incalculable. Born in Salford in the 1930s, one of the composer's first musical memories was listening to foxtrot records under his parents' staircase as the bombs were falling during the Second World War. In the 1960s he was considered the 'enfant terrible' of new British music, writing the soundtrack for Ken Russell's controversial film 'The Devils' and even provoking an audience walk-out during the BBC Proms. However his music and life was to change as he came under the spell of the desolate Orkney islands, which he first visited in the early 1970s before moving there a few years later for the rest of his life.

Composing in a small crofthouse overlooking the dramatic seascapes of Rackwick Bay on the isle of Hoy to the sounds of the wind and sea, it was inevitable that the landscape would influence his music. Maxwell Davies was obsessed with the wave forms he could see through his window and devised a mathematical formula that reflected their different forms which provided the musical basis of his Second Symphony. Presenter Donald Macleod, who visited the composer twice in the Orkneys, also looks at how old Scottish tales of the sea provided inspiration as well as a unexpected visit from a rare sea bird and a dramatic sunrise under the influence of whisky.

Golden Whale, Ancient Trust and 3 Seascapes - from Westerlings

BBC Singers

Simon Joly, conductor

Symphony No.2 (fourth movement)

BBC Philharmonic

Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor

Sea Eagle (first movement)

Michael Thompson, horn

The Lighthouse (excerpt)

Neil Mackie, Sandy

Christopher Keyte, Blaze

Ian Comboy, Arthur

An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise

George McIlwham, bagpipes

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

05Rage Against The Dying Of The Light20170317

Donald Macleod explores the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, who died a year ago this week at the age of 81. The contribution this former Master of the Queen's Music had made to the musical life of these islands as a hugely prolific composer, performer and teacher, is incalculable. Born in Salford in the 1930s, one of the composer's first musical memories was listening to foxtrot records under his parents' staircase as the bombs were falling during the Second World War. In the 1960s he was considered the 'enfant terrible' of new British music, writing the soundtrack for Ken Russell's controversial film 'The Devils' and even provoking an audience walk-out during the BBC Proms. However his music and life was to change as he came under the spell of the desolate Orkney islands, which he first visited in the early 1970s before moving there a few years later for the rest of his life.

By the turn of the twenty-first century, Maxwell Davies had completed a remarkable journey from enfant terrible to a highly decorated figure within the music world. A lifelong republican, he received a knighthood before taking the post of Master of the Queen's Music from 2004 for a decade. He insisted that by taking these titles his voice and opinions would carry more weight. He spoke out against the closure of music libraries and the declining standard of music education in British schools. His music was never shy of tackling environmental issues or reflecting his pacifism, as in his third Naxos Quartet, written at the outset of the Iraq war in 2003.

Fanfare for Lowry

The Wallace Collection

Naxos Quartet No.3 (first movement)

Maggini Quartet

Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis (The Edinburgh Service)

Michael Bonaventure, organ

Choir of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh

Matthew Owens, conductor

Symphony No.10 (part four)

Markus Butter, baritone

London Symphony Chorus

London Symphony Orchestra

Antonio Pappano, conductor

Lullaby for Lucy

Peter Maxwell Davies, conductor.

Donald Macleod explores Peter Maxwell Davies's late works from the 21st century.