Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Universally acknowledged as one of the foremost composers of our time, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has made a significant contribution to musical history through his wide-ranging and prolific output. He lives in the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland, where he writes most of his music. In a worklist that spans more than five decades, he has written across a broad range of styles, yet his music always communicates directly and powerfully, whether in his profoundly argued symphonic works, his music-theatre works or witty light orchestral works.

Maxwell Davies' major dramatic works include the operas Taverner, Resurrection, The Lighthouse, The Doctor of Myddfai and Kommilitonen!; two full-length ballets, and music-theatre works Eight Songs for a Mad King and Miss Donnithorne's Maggot. His huge output of orchestral work comprises nine symphonies, as well as numerous concerti, light orchestral works and five large-scale works for chorus. His most recent series is the landmark Naxos String Quartet cycle, which was recently presented in its entirety over one weekend at the Southbank Centre. Recent premieres include a Violin Concerto for Daniel Hope and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and his Ninth Symphony, premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Petrenko in Liverpool and at the 2012 BBC Proms.

Maxwell Davies has guest-conducted international orchestras at the highest level and has held the position of Composer/Conductor with both the Royal Philharmonic and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras. He retains close links with the St. Magnus Festival, Orkney's annual arts festival which he founded in 1977, and is Composer Laureate of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Maxwell Davies was knighted in 1987 and was appointed Master of the Queen's Music from 2004 to 2014. As Master of the Quuen's Music he sought to raise the profile of music in Great Britain, as well as writing many works for Her Majesty the Queen and for royal occasions.


The changing face of 'new' music 

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies re-evaluates Anton Webern's lecture The Path to New Music with perceptive insights into the contemporary cultural world.

This lecture was supported by the John Coffin Memorial Fund

Recommended by the IMR

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies on his new Tenth Symphony

© London Symphony Orchestra

Edited, produced and directed by Tommy Pearson, Red Ted Productions