Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (often known simply as Max
) is a prominent British composer
, who for many years has lived in the isles of Orkney
in the far north of Scotland, and likes to bring their music and traditions into his own. In March 2004 Sir Peter was appointed Master of the Queen's Music
for a ten-year term. His works are often pleasing and amusing.
Born in Salford in 1934, Maxwell Davies (his surname is both words) is both a composer and a conductor, and founder of the St Magnus Festival on Orkney, where he moved in 1971. He is an important symphonist, and has so far written eight symphonies, including an Antarctic Symphony inspired by a visit to Antarctica in 1997-8, commissioned by the British Antarctic Survey and the Philharmonia.
His operas are Taverner, Resurrection, The Lighthouse, and The Doctor of Myddfai; and his ballets are Salome and Caroline Mathilde. One popular work is An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, joyful and full of references to Orcadian (Orkney) traditions, the use of bagpipes, and so on. Another is a song cycle, Eight Songs for a Mad King, with lyrics by novelist Randolph Stow on the theme of the madness of George III.
Another is Mavis in Las Vegas, whose name comes from an incident he found amusing. He was staying in Las Vegas and someone was trying to get hold of him. The receptionist at the hotel couldn't find him on the register, and the caller offered various possibilities: Davis, Maxwell, Sir, and so on. Eventually they found he had been registered under the name Mavis. So his piece Mavis in Las Vegas is a whimsical portrayal of a cheery Mavis exploring the bizarre wonders of that town.
Maxwell Davis is Composer Laureate of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and has previously been Conductor/Composer of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Composer/Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic.
His very full and informative website: http://www.maxopus.com
Royal appointment and some biography: http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page2965.asp
Me listening to his 70th birthday concert from Kirkwall in Orkney on Radio 3