• military band
  • 3 min 30 s

Programme Note

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, appointed Master of the Queen’s Music last year, is a composer who has always been willing and able to write appropriate music for particular performers, audiences and occasions. His worldwide reputation rests on an impressive series of major orchestral, chamber and theatrical works, frequently based on themes or models from the mediaeval and Renaissance periods, often challenging in the seriousness and toughness of their musical argument, but shaped with a sure sense of dramatic effect. However, as early as his years at a teacher at Cirencester Grammar School, between 1959 and 1962, he was writing music for the pupils to perform and enjoy. He has followed that up with similar pieces for the children of Orkney, where he has lived for more than thirty years. His catalogue also includes short orchestral pieces in his own vein of light music, some recalling his Salford childhood, others inspired by experiences in his adoptive home or on his travels. And he has written numerous small-scale occasional pieces of commemoration or celebration.

One reason Maxwell Davies has explored so many different areas of musical expression is an abiding curiosity about all kinds of music-making. A few months ago he visited Kneller Hall, the Royal Military School of Music, for the first time, to study the genre of the military march. He discovered, he later wrote, “a whole world of music, with its own rules of composition, as strict as species counterpoint [the method by which composers for centuries learned their craft], sealed off, in many respects, from the outside world.” The first fruit of this visit was a Military March for nine instruments, first performed at the Royal Academy of Music in April as part of the festival “Max: Peter Maxwell Davies, a Musician of Our Time”. Another result, though it does not stick strictly to the Kneller Hall rules, is the march which opens this Concert of Reconciliation. Scored for military band, it makes use of a melody which you will hear again in the new cantata at the end of the concert.
© Anthony Burton 2005

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