Legendary composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has received the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal, saying ‘that’s the one I wanted!’
Davies was appointed Master of the Queens Music in 2004 (the musical equivalent of Poet Laureate) and lives in the Orkney Islands, where he was presented with his medal.
His citation states that: ‘It is the brilliance of his writing, the searing power of his imagination, the vivid theatricality and the quality of craftsmanship that engage us with the music of Peter Maxwell Davies. [He] has redefined what it means to be a composer and inspired new generations of musicians.’
81-year-old Davies first came to prominence in the 50s while a student at Manchester University, where his bold compositions caused stirrings among the establishment. In the 60s he cemented his reputation with Eight Songs for a Mad King and Five Pieces, while the premiere of Worldes Blis at the BBC Proms in 1969 incited a mass walk out.
Maxwell has also been an iconoclast outside of music, criticising the 2003 Iraq war and taking an active role in promoting environmental issues. In October 2015 he revealed he is battling cancer and has undergone chemotherapy.
Peter Maxwell Davies joins Janet Baker, Daniel Barenboim, Placido Domingo, Simon Rattle, Mitsuko Uchida and most recently Marta Argerich, on RPS’s distinguished list of Gold Medal recipients. He is the 102nd person to be honoured by the London-based music society that was formed over 200 years ago.