Peter Maxwell Davies on music, Scottish independence, and turning 80

Posted on: August 21, 2014

In Wednesday’s (8/20) Guardian (London), Tom Service interviews composer Peter Maxwell Davies. “Davies, one of our greatest living composers, is about to celebrate his 80th birthday and is being feted up and down the country with a cluster of concerts at the Proms in London and in Glasgow on and around the big day. …‘Seriously,’ he says, with a glint in his eye, ‘all these celebrations are wonderful, but I did have to interrupt a piece I was thoroughly enjoying. I’m carrying it around with me in my brain—and I just want to get back to it.’ By ‘back to it,’ he doesn’t just mean composing. He also means his home on the island of Sanday in Orkney, the archipelago where he has lived since the mid-1970s. Whatever happens, he will be back there to vote ‘Yes’ in the forthcoming referendum. ‘I would like to see Scotland go independent,’ he says. ‘Here we are, ruled by a bunch of Bullingdon-club millionaire Tories who don’t understand anything about Scotland.’ … Last year he was given six weeks to live by doctors at University College Hospital in London, where he was treated for leukemia. … Throughout his treatment, Davies was at a desk in the hospital at 7am, composing his 10th Symphony for the London Symphony Orchestra. … Meanwhile, Davies’s thinking about his music seems to have acquired a new, mystical dimension. ‘My religious attitudes are very open indeed, but I do feel that for human beings to make a God in our own image is a terrible affront, because we’re so limited in our understanding.’ ”

Posted August 21, 2014