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Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell (dāˈvĭs) [key], 1934–, English composer and conductor, b. Salford. He was co-founder (1967) of the Pierrot Players instrumental ensemble, later reinvented as the Fires of London (1970–87), which he directed and for which he wrote many pieces, e.g., the highly emotional Eight Songs for a Mad King (1969), probably his best-known work. He has composed in numerous idioms and moods, from early expressionist works to later more lyrical and reflective pieces; his interest in medieval and Renaissance music is clear in Shakespeare Music (1964) and other compositions. Extremely prolific, Davies has written choral works, e.g., O magnum mysterium (1960); operas, e.g., The Lighthouse (1980), The Doctor of Myddfai (1996), and Kommilitonen! (2011); several symphonies, e.g., Antarctic Symphony (2002); and numerous concerti, vocal works, chamber music, theater pieces, and other compositions. He has served as conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Glasgow (1985–94), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London (1992–2000), and the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester (1992–2001); in 2004 he was appointed Master of the Queen's Musick. He was knighted in 1987.

See biography by M. Seabrook (1994) and bio-bibliography by C. Smith (1995); studies by S. Pruslin, ed. (1979), P. Griffiths (1981), R. McGregor, ed. (2001), and S. Craggs, ed. (2003).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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