Davies, Sir Peter Maxwell dā´vĭs
, 1934–2016, English composer and conductor, b. Salford, studied Royal Manchester College of Music and Princeton with Roger Sessions
and Milton Babbitt
. 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 composed in numerous idioms and moods, from early expressionist and often dissonant 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 wrote choral works, e.g., O magnum mysterium
(1960); operas, e.g., The Lighthouse
(1980), The Doctor of Myddfai
(1996), and Kommilitonen!
(2011); ten symphonies, e.g., Antarctic Symphony
(2002); and numerous concerti, vocal works, chamber music, works for solo instruments, theater pieces, and other compositions. He served as conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Glasgow (1985–94), as an associate conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London (1992–2000) and the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester (1992–2001), and as guest conductor of numerous other orchestras. From 2004 to 2014 he was Master of the Queen's Music. 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).
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