Sir Peter Maxwell Davies awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal
19th February 2016
In awarding the medal, the Society said:
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. Over six decades he has been part of our public consciousness; an extraordinary musician who has moved from iconoclast and enfant terrible of the avant garde, to a leading cultural figure, appointed Master of the Queen's Music in 2004. He continues to create wonderful, richly imagined works which are warmly welcomed by musicians and audiences at home and abroad.
Max is our foremost champion of creative music education, drawing on his early teaching experience and demonstrating that all children can compose music and perform given the minimum of opportunity. He is never reluctant to speak out or upset the status quo on matters about which he feels passionately (and there are many) – whether it be to admonish the government on arts funding or on green issues, to march against the invasion of Iraq, or to take on restaurants blighted by muzak.
And yet, while taking a very public role he has simultaneously embedded himself in the community of the Orkney Islands, his home since 1970. Here, as one of the founders of the St Magnus International Festival, he has put into action his belief (which he stated in his 2005 RPS Lecture), that '…a place cannot come to life musically unless or until the inhabitants make and perform their own songs which are relevant to that place, and to the lives of the people who live in it.'
Peter Maxwell Davies has redefined what it means to be a composer and inspired new generations of musicians. We applaud him for his generosity of spirit and are proud to present him with the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal.
Peter Maxwell Davies commented:
'I am absolutely delighted and couldn't be more honoured to receive the RPS Gold Medal. That’s the one I wanted!'
Peter Maxwell Davies joins a distinguished list of current RPS Gold Medallists including Marta Argerich, Janet Baker, Daniel Barenboim, Alfred Brendel, Placido Domingo, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, György Kurtag, Antonio Pappano, Thomas Quasthoff, Simon Rattle, András Schiff, John Tomlinson and Mitsuko Uchida.
The extraordinary list of composers who have been awarded the RPS Gold Medal includes: Brahms, Delius, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Kodály, Prokofiev, Olivier Messiaen, William Walton, Malcolm Sargent, Arthur Bliss, Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, Lutoslawski, Leonard Bernstein, Henri Dutilleux and most recently György Kurtág.