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Last Updated: Monday, 8 March, 2004, 11:46 GMT
Queen names new official composer
Composer and conductor Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has been appointed Master of the Queen's Music.

Sir Peter, 69, succeeds Malcolm Williamson - who died in March 2003 - in the honorary position.

In a break with tradition Sir Peter will hold the post for 10 years - rather than for life - to enable more composers to take up the role.

The Master of the Queen's Music has no fixed duties, but may write music for special royal or state occasions.

Sir Peter's appointment to the role is in contrast to some of his comments in the past, where he questioned the role of the monarchy and of un-elected leaders.

But Sir Peter denied his views would conflict with the role, which began in 1626.

"I think this will eventually be judged by the music I produce, and the occasions I produce it for, which are yet to be specified," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Masses

"Somewhere along the line I said I do question hereditary positions where you are not elected, but you look at a democracy like Italy or even the United States at the moment, and you begin to wonder," he said.

"I do think that they realise that I love to do things I haven't done before. For instance, I recently wrote a couple of masses for Westminster Cathedral.

"I pointed out I wasn't not a Catholic but I would love to do it - and they said they had commissioned Vaughan Williams and Ben Britten in the past, and they weren't Catholic either," he said.

Sir Peter's best-known royal work so far is Eight Songsfor a Mad King, inspired by the mental problems suffered by King George III.

He also said he hoped his appointment would help modern classical music.

Sir Peter's previous works also include the operas Taverner and The Lighthouse.


SEE ALSO:
Queen's official composer dies
03 Mar 03  |  Entertainment


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