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Sir Peter Maxwell Davies 80 years.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

LONDON/ GREAT BRITAIN: The famouse british composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies celebrated his 80 years birthday by a late evening concert for The Promps on Monday 8th. September at Royal Albert Hall in London, where he, him self, has put together a program, that he would like to enjoy, and he too presented it on stage, together with a speaker from BBC.


By Henning Høholt, text and stage photos.

The concert: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Birthday Concert 8th. September 2014.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s 80th birthday, the Proms . The concert overture Ebb of Winter, commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as part of its 40th-anniversary celebrations, captures the rugged, rough-hewn beauty of Davies’s Orkney home, opened the concert.

The young conductor Ben Gernon turns the symphonic music with big autority and the chamber orchestrasome time sounded like a large symphony orchestra, well prepared. foto Hannah Taylor

The young conductor Ben Gernon turns the symphonic music with big autority and the chamber orchestrasome time sounded like a large symphony orchestra, well prepared.

In The Fourth Strathclyde Concerto, for clarinet and orchestra, completes the concert – a thrilling tour de force, demanding equal virtuosity from soloist and ensemble. Soloist on clarinet Dimitri Ashkenazy.  This clarinet “concerto” is of extraordinary beauty, and performed wiith this excellent soloist it was an extraordinary highlight of the evening, it ends in F-sharps Major!.

We see a different side of island life in the joyous ebullience of the much-loved An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise. This last festivitas piece could also easy has been happening in connection with a wedding in Norway at the country side, or at a north west coast island. According to PMD´s presentation on stage, they all get very drunk, and that is what he, successfully manage to describe in his music, which is being more and more wilde, but then ending up with the sunrise in the morning and a bagpipe player, Robert Jordan, on stage in fully scottisch outfit, to great pleasure for the audience.

It all ended up with a fanfare type of Happy Birthday to you in an arrangement by one of the orchestral members, starting with a beautiful atmosphaeric wellplayed pauke solo. Please enjoy a part of it at this Youtube link (unfortunately without the pauke introduction. : http://youtu.be/VQVyIASiCJU

    • Concert Overture ‘Ebb of Winter’ (18 mins)
      London premiere
    • Strathclyde Concerto No. 4 (27 mins)
    • An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise (14 mins)
  • Dimitri Ashkenazy clarinet, Proms debut artist
  • Scottish Chamber Orchestra
  • Ben Gernon conductor, Proms debut artist
For an international critic, not resident in Great Britain, this is an extraordinary possibility to listen to these works live in presence of the composer, and with his personal coments. Furthermore, it is an underlining of the respect for a central figure in British music life.

Peter Maxwell Davies, 80 year concert at Royal Albert Hal. Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Ben Germonl. 8.9.2014. Foto Henning Høholt

Davies is a prolific composer who has written music in a variety of styles and idioms over his career, often combining disparate styles in one piece.
For me, personally,  I find it is great that Peter Maxwell Davies also is openly gay. Bravo.
In 2007, a controversy arose regarding his intended civil partnership when he was told that the ceremony could not take place on the Sanday Light Railway. He later abandoned his plans.

Royal Albert Hall, seen from the Royal College of Music. 8th September 2014. foto Henning Høholt

In fact Sir Peter was earlier this summer celebrated at home at Orkney at an interesting choire concert where too other great international composers where present. from Norway Cecilie Ore was on stage sitting tigether with Sir Peter, and one of her choire works: Toil & Trouble, UK Premiere with the BBC Singers 20.06.14. at St. Magnus Festival, Kirkwall, Orkney Islands  was performed.

History:  Peter Maxwell Davies:

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies,
(born 8 September 1934) is an English composer and conductor.
1953–58 – studied in Manchester and Rome.
  • 1967 – together with Harrison Birtwistle, founded the contemporary music touring ensemble the Pierrot Players (later renamed The Fires of London).
  • 1971 – moved to Hov in the Orkney Islands.
  • 1977 – founds the St

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    . Magnus Festival.

  • 1987–96 – wrote the ten Strathclyde Concertos for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
  • 2001–07 – wrote a cycle of ten string quartets, commissioned by Naxos.
  • 2004 – appointed Master of the Queen´s Music.
  • 2008 – became Patron of the Manchester University Music Society (MUMS)
  • 2009 – became an Honorary Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge.


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