1934 – 2016

Nationality British

Composer and conductor well-known for radical, modern works as well as more subtle and traditional chamber and choral music. Very outspoken about environmental and political issues.

Most Notable Works

Eight Songs for A Mad King, a startling depiction of insanity, 1969

Taverner, an opera based on the life of British composer John Taverner, 1972.

Life in brief

1934 - Born in Salford to father Thomas, a manufacturer of optical instruments and mother Hilda, an amateur painter.

1953 - Begins his formal studies at the Royal Manchester College of Music having initially started to compose at the age of eight.

1960 - Takes up Head of Music post at Cirencester Grammar School, writing O Magnum Mysterium for its pupils.

1971 - Settles in the Orkney Islands and founds St. Magnus Festival often premiering new works using local school orchestras.

1987 - Begins association with fellow composer James MacMillan helping to bring his second Strathclyde Concerto (of ten) to children in Ayr.

2004 - Appointed Master of the Queen’s Music.

2009 - Made an honorary fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge.

2014 - World premiere of his Symphony No. 10 at the Barbican Hall, London.