(James) Paul McCartney

English Born 18 Jun 1942

Paul McCartney was born in Liverpool on June 18th 1942, and from an early age dreamed of making music.  He started writing songs on his Guitar when he was 14, and in the 60s wrote and co-authored with John Lennon the songs of the Beatles.  They changed the world of popular music with albums including Please Please Me, Revolver, Help!, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album.  His performing continued with the band Wings, and then as a solo artist.  In 1996 McCartney was knighted for services to music.

His less well-documented classical career began in 1990 when he was commissioned to write the Liverpool Oratorio by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society, a work that has been played all over the world, and has sold massively in the UK and USA.  In 1995 A Leaf was premiered in the presence of the Prince of Wales, and since then he has written several more classical works: Stately Horn, Inebriation, Spiral and Standing Stone.  The latter was his largest so far, a symphonic poem whose performance by the London Symphony Orchestra was recorded in the famous Abbey Road studios.  Its UK premiere received a ten-minute standing ovation, and the USA premiere was broadcast live to 300 radio stations, making it the biggest classical broadcast ever.  It earned McCartney the USA's National Public Radio New Horizon Award for bringing classical music to a wider audience.

McCartney was famous for his inability to read music, so news of his classical exploration met with initial scepticism.  However the music was played into and scored by a computer, and cleaned up by composers Richard Rodney Bennett and John Harle among others.  Standing Stone took its narrative structure and imagery from a poem that McCartney had written previously.  The music itself has hints of Delius, Holst and Ravel, and is slightly reminiscent of sweeping film scores.

Related composers: DeliusHolstRavel

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