Composer of the Week: Peter Maxwell Davies

Farewell to Stromness

Episode 1 Farewell to Stromness



Donald Macleod explores the career of Peter Maxwell Davies, who died a year ago this week at the age of 81 and was a hugely prolific composer, performer and teacher. Born in Salford in the 1930s, one of the composer's first musical memories was listening to foxtrot records under his parents' staircase as the bombs were falling during the Second World War. In the 1960s he was considered the enfant terrible of new British music, writing the soundtrack for Ken Russell's controversial film The Devils and even provoking an audience walk-out during the BBC Proms. However his music and life was to change as he came under the spell of the Orkney islands, which he first visited in the early 1970s before moving there a few years later for the rest of his life. Donald twice visited the composer in Orkney, and begins the week with an exploration of how the islands' landscape, history, environment, myths and its people inspired his work. Farewell to Stromness. Peter Maxwell Davies (piano). Symphony No 1 (second movement). Philharmonia Orchestra, conductor Simon Rattle. Martyrdom of St Magnus (extract). Christopher Gillett (tenor: Earl Magnus), Peter Thomson (tenor: Herald of Earl Magnus), Kelvin Thomas (baritone: Earl Hakon), Richard Morris (baritone: Herald of Earl), Hakon Music Theatre Wales with the Scottish Chamber Opera Ensemble, conductor Michael Raffertty. Black Pentecost (second movement). Della Jones (mezzo soprano), David Wilson-Johnson (baritone), BBC Philharmonic, conductor Peter Maxwell Davies. A Spell for Greencorn: The Macdonald Dances (excerpt). James Clark (violin), conductor Peter Maxwell Davies.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Donald Macleod
Producer Rhodri Huw