Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ 75th birthday

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ 75th birthday

A festival of events to celebrate the great musician

One of the UK’s best known and loved musicians, Master of the Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, celebrates his 75th birthday with a festival of events presented by some of his dearest friends. That they happen to be the country’s leading orchestras and ensembles is no coincidence as Max (as he is universally known) has developed close and lasting relationships with a large range of musicians over the astonishing breadth of his career. 18 works by the Orkney-resident composer will be heard in 12 events in Glasgow (and, to a lesser extent, Edinburgh), involving no less than ten orchestras and ensembles. He has written across every genre of music – symphonies and concertos, operas, music theatre, films, ballet scores, children’s operas, for choirs, for soloists, light music, dark music, religious music, chamber music – it is an endless list.

New for the festival is Max’s latest piece – Overture, St Francis of Assisi – which receives its world premiere in performance by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ilan Volkov. The RSAMD, Hebrides Ensemble, Scottish Ensemble and Red Note also all pay tribute, but it is the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with whom Max has had the longest and most fruitful association. ‘He became our Composer Laureate in the 90s,’ says SCO Managing Director Roy McEwan, ‘but was an important figure for the orchestra before then, especially through the previous decade when he wrote the set of ten Strathclyde Concertos for us.’ Altogether, Max has written 19 major scores for the SCO, a reflection of the prolific and wide-ranging nature of his work. ‘He is also passionate about the community aspect of music,’ says McEwan, ‘and educational work. He is very public in championing issues affecting young musicians.’

For their homage to Max, the SCO return to his Symphony No 4, which they first performed at the BBC Proms 20 years ago. In the audience was Oliver Knussen, who conducts the SCO in Glasgow and Edinburgh in not only the symphony, but also his own Music for a Puppet Court, which is dedicated to Max.

Various venues, Glasgow, Thu 29 Oct–Sun 8 Nov; Edinburgh, Sat 31 Oct

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra: Maestros' Choice 3

Conductor Ilan Volkov opens on a bombastic note with Richard Strauss' 'Don Juan', followed by a performance by Stefan Vladar of Beethoven's magnificent 'Piano Concerto No 4', the world premiere of a new work by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and ending with the dark finality of Sibelius' great 'Symphony No 7'. With a…

Scottish Chamber Orchestra: Max at 75

The SCO celebrates its long relationship with its Composer Laureate, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Oliver Knussen conducts, opening with his own 'Music for a Puppet Court' followed by Mahler's luscious 'Rückert Lieder', featuring mezzo soprano Helena Rasker. Finally, Maxwell Davies' own 'Symphony No 4' - premiered by the SCO…

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra: Hear and Now

Conductor Martyn Brabbins and the orchestra are joined by the RSNO Junior Chorus in a rare performance of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' 1972 opera 'Taverner', based on the life of the 16th-century English composer, John Taverner. To be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Opera on 3. Max four tickets per applicant; under…

NYOS Futures and the BBC SSO

NYOS' contemporary ensemble is joined by members of the BBC SSO in a journey through the ethereal tranquility of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' 'Die Assumptione Beata Maria Virgine', an expression of the Virgin Mary's bodily assumption into heaven.

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra: Discovering Music

Stephen Johnson presents an exploration of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' 'A Reel of Seven Fishermen', an orchestral work based on a poem by George Mackay Brown, for later broadcast on BBC Radio 3's 'Discovering Music' programme. Martyn Brabbins conducts. Max 2 tickets per applicant; under 12s not admitted.

Hebrides Ensemble

As part of the celebrations for Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' 75th birthday, the celebrated Edinburgh-based ensemble performs some of the composer's chamber music along with that of fellow septuagenarian Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen.

Conversation Pieces: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Iain Anderson hosts a discussion on the life and work of Sir Peter as part of his 75th birthday celebrations. Well established as one of the outstanding composers of our generation, Sir Peter has been Master of the Queen's Music since 2004.

The MusicLab

The RSAMD's MusicLab celebrates Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' 75th birthday with his 'Farewell to Stromness', 'Naxos String Quartet No 8' and 'Dark Angels', as well as James MacMillan's 'Exsultet'.

Scottish Ensemble with Mark O'Keefe

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' birthday celebrations continue with a concert featuring the Scottish Ensemble, which celebrates its own 40th anniversary this year, and the BBC SSO's Principal Trumpet Mark O'Keeffe. They will perform the composer's 'Quintet for Trumpet and String Quartet', introduced by the man himself.

Sanday Fiddle Club and RSAMD MusicWorks Concert and Ceilidh

A knees-up to celebrate the 75th birthday of MusicWorks patron Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.


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