Our much loved friend, celebrated composer and President of Help Musicians UK, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CBE, has died aged 81. He became our President in 2010, following in the footsteps of Edward Elgar who helped set up the charity in 1921.
Born in Lancashire, Sir Peter was a prolific composer who wrote music in a wide variety of styles throughout his career, most well-known for his modern, avant-garde works. His inspiration to compose came from an early production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, and at aged 14 he submitted his first composition for the radio programme, Children’s Hour.
Highlights of Sir Peter’s career include the role of Musical Director at Cirencester Grammar School, Composer in Residence at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Australia, founder of the acclaimed St Magnus International Festival and one of the first composers to open a music download website, MaxOpus.
Sir Peter received a CBE in 1981, was knighted in 1987 and in 2004 was appointed Master of the Queen's Music. More recently, he became a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to music in 2014 and last month received the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal, the highest accolade the society can give, in recognition of outstanding musicianship.
Chairman of Help Musicians UK, Graham Sheffield said “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. His contribution to music through work as a composer, educator and musical activist made him one of the leading lights of his generation. He argued strongly and passionately for the cause of music and the arts and we are honoured to have had him as our President for the past five years. He will be sorely missed.”
Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this time.