Unmasking Max: Peter Maxwell Davies Study Day

Cardiff, UK, 4 December 2021

The status of Peter Maxwell Davies (1934–2016) as one of the leading international composers of the post-war period is widely acknowledged and celebrated. This pre-eminent position is, for the most part, a direct result of six decades’ worth of high profile commissions, recordings and performances of his music; but it is also a reflection of Davies’s wider contributions to the world of music, culture and society through his work with music education and the teaching of composition, and his activities as conductor, as public commentator and speaker, and as Master of the Queen’s Music (a position to which he was appointed in 2004 for a ten-year period). This prolific, protean composer left behind a highly significant body of work that comprises almost 550 compositions in every major genre, including art song and ballet, sonata and string quartet, mass and oratorio, symphony and concerto, music-theatre and opera, as well as music for children and amateurs.

Cardiff University, School of Music


9.00     Arrival/registration

9.25     Welcome and opening remarks

9.30     Session 1

  • Rodney Lister (Boston University): ‘That was Now, This is Then’
  • Alexander Kolassa (Open University): ‘“A crazy clutter of the mediaeval, medical mind”: Peter Maxwell Davies in Ken Russell’s The Devils

10.30   Break

11.00   Session 2

  • Upa Mesbahian (King’s College London): ‘The Lighthouse: A Tale of Collective Madness’
  • Richard McGregor (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland): ‘Taking The No. 11 Bus to the Resurrection

12.00   Lunch break (delegates will need to provide their own lunch)

1.00     Paper / lunchtime concert

  • Nicholas Jones (Cardiff University), featuring several world and UK premieres of works dating from the late 1940s and early 1950s.

2.00     Keynote

  • Christopher Austin (Royal Academy of Music): ‘Peter Maxwell Davies and The Twilight Zone

3.15     Break

3.45     Session 3

  • Thomas Hyde (King’s College London/Oxford University): ‘Salford Fairgrounds and Five-legged sheep: Peter Maxwell Davies’s Construction of his Own Childhood and the Ambiguities of Mythmaking’
  • Sylvia Junge: ‘Max’s Music for Children and Amateurs: A Personal View’

4.45     Roundtable discussion: ‘Remembering Max’

  • Christopher Austin, Sally Groves, Sylvia Junge, Nicholas Jones (Chair)

5.30     Close

Registration, including lunchtime concert, will cost £20 for the day. Please click on the following link to book your place: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/cardiffmusic/t-opvpja

7.00 Evening concert, including a performance of Eight Songs for a Mad King and works by Judith Weir and Anna Semple, conducted by Joshua Ballance, soloist Barney Wolstenholme; introduced by Nicholas Jones and Richard McGregor (purchase ticket here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/cardiffmusic/t-kmmgno)