Peter Maxwell Davies


Peter Maxwell Davies was born in Salford, Greater Manchester, on 8th September 1934.  His first musical performance was eight years later, playing the piano on the BBC Home Service's Childrens Hour.  He is now the Associate Conductor/Composer of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, Composer/Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, and Composer Laureate of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.  As well as creating more than 300 works in all genres, Davies has been involved in music education, composing works to be played by non-specialist children.  He has lived in, and been inspired by, the Orkney Islands since the 1970s.

Davies has written major theatrical works, including Taverner, Resurrection, The Lighthouse (one of the most performed 20th century operas) and The Doctor of Myddfai; the full-length ballets Salome and Caroline Mathilde; and the music-theatre works Eight Songs for a Mad King and Miss Donnithorne's Maggot. His fifty-six orchestral works include fourteen concertos, seven light orchestral works (including An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise and Mavis in Las Vegas) three large-scale works for chorus, and seven symphonies. 

Some of Davies' works are politically inspired, such as The Yellow Cake Revue (about uranium mining), and Black Pentecost (industrial air pollution).  A number of his works involve an extra element of performance - for example the Blind Man's Buff for soprano, dancer, mime and small ensemble, or 8 Songs for a Mad King, played by four musicians inside bird cages.

Related composers: Taverner

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