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‘The northern night-fire calls us to our sleep’: Peter Maxwell Davies’s The Hogboon and the Dynamics of Late Style

Jones, Nicholas ORCID: 2022. ‘The northern night-fire calls us to our sleep’: Peter Maxwell Davies’s The Hogboon and the Dynamics of Late Style. Presented at: Music Since 1900 Twelfth Biennial International Conference, Birmingham Conservatoire, 17-20 June 2022.

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Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Peter Maxwell Davies (1934–2016) wrote over thirty works for young performers. Composing for children was very important to Davies, and the works he produced in this area not only reflected a deep desire on his part to create something significant, non-patronising and challenging, but also demonstrated an unwavering commitment to his role as community composer. It is perhaps surprising, therefore, that these works have received very little scholarly attention. This paper will focus on Davies’s ‘late style’ through an exploration of his final stage work, the children’s opera The Hogboon (2015), completed just six months before the composer’s death. The foreknowledge of death overshadowed much of Davies’s music during this period, such as the Tenth Symphony (2013) and Quartet Fragment (2016). In a diary entry from 2015 he declared that ‘most of my recent work addresses Thanatos [the Greek personification of death]’. But this late period also addressed notions of hope and reconciliation. In a diary entry relating to The Hogboon, for instance, Davies makes reference to Spes, the Roman goddess of hope, and also states that the work is an attempt to ‘reconcile extremes of experience’. Death, hope and reconciliation are therefore central themes in these late-period works. But this paper also explores further characteristics that help shape and define the dynamics of the composer’s late style, including the influence of Scottish folklore and folk music, environmental anxieties and concerns, nostalgia and matters of autobiography.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 11:27

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