Royal composer Peter Maxwell Davies attacks ‘lazy’ conductors Quality of music damaged by ‘production line performances’ says retiring maestro
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, 76, who conducted his last concert in December, said the sheer number of performances was proving detrimental to quality. “Today too many conductors are just churning out production line performances,” he told Scotland on Sunday. “They are doing far too many concerts. Maybe it is to do with the money.”
Maxwell Davies, named the Queen’s master of music in 2004, is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest living composers, but he claims he only took up the baton because existing conductors said his work was too difficult. “I think they were just being lazy and limited,” he said. “I had furious rows with some of them – some of them are very well known. They wanted to keep their world safe, but music is not safe and nor should it be.”
He did not name those he criticised, but he praised British conductor Sir Simon Rattle and French conductor and composer Pierre Boulez as “real masters”.
Maxwell Davies will now concentrate on composing. He is working on his ninth symphony, for the Queen’s diamond jubilee next year. A former republican, he said he changed his views after years of working with the monarchy convinced him it represents “continuity, tradition and stability”.
But he showed he was still prepared to court controversy last year, when he refused to wear a poppy or attend any Remembrance Day parades, claiming they had been “hijacked” to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Although he will lose up to £100,000 a year giving up conducting, Maxwell Davies says he will not miss the money as it was never of interest to him. “For many years I didn’t know I was even earning that kind of money,” he said. Despite his fame, he lives a simple life on the Orkney isle of Sanday with his partner, Colin Parkinson.
In 1977, he co-founded the St Magnus Music Festival on the islands which includes a training course for aspiring conductors. His final performance was conducting the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Camerata Salzburg.
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- January 10, 2011 / 4:38 pm
- conductor failures