One of Britain's most widely recognized composers is the source of some 300 works of various genres and styles. A frequent conductor, he was also in the public eye for his political activism.
Davies died of leukemia on Monday (14.03.2016) in his house on the Orkney Islands off the Scottish coast, his agency said.
Despite his anti-establishment, Republican leanings and his predilection for avant-garde music, he was named "Master of the Queen's Music" in 2004 and served as the royal family's official composer for ten years. The work "Farewell to Stromness," performed in 2001 at the wedding of Crown Prince William and his bride Kate, came from Davies' pen.
Born on September 8, 1934 in Salford, Peter Maxwell Davies took music lessons at an early age, declaring his intention to become a composer at age four. With the help of composers Aaron Copland and Benjamin Britten, he was awarded a scholarship to Princeton University in the US in 1962. He later moved to Australia before returning to his home country, settling in Orkney and founding the St. Magnus Festival there in 1977.
In the 1960's, the composer was famous - or infamous - for works such as his "Eight Songs for a Mad King," which shocked audiences and critics. "Max" - as he was called in music circles - wrote a wide range of works in various styles, however, including ten symphonies, solo concertos, operas, ballets and film music. The London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Simon Rattle premiered his children's opera "The Hogboon" in June 2015.
Knighted in 1987, Davies was a repeated guest conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Philharmonia Orchestra of London and the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig. In this capacity, he was a frequent guest in Leipzig. From 1992 until 2002 he served as deputy conductor and composer of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Davies was also active in non-musical affairs, including environmental activism. In 2003, he was a bitter opponent of the Iraq war and of Britain's involvement in it.