Maxwell Davies accuses conductors of being ‘lazy’

Master of Queen's Music retires from conducting

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Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has used the announcement of his retirement from conducting to accuse other contemporary conductors of being ‘lazy’.

Master of the Queen’s Music and one of the world’s pre-eminent composers, Maxwell Davies also criticised his colleagues for being too motivated by money and sacrificing standards in order to take on overloaded concert schedules.

Although he refused to name any conductors guilty of his accusations, Maxwell Davies said that there was a general trend for ‘churning out production line performances’ without any thought for musical artistry.

Maxwell Davies, who has conducted some of the world’s best orchestras in a career spanning more than 50 years, claims to have started conducting only because others refused to tackle his music for being too difficult.

Just two living conductors were spared criticism. British conductor Sir Simon Rattle and French composer-conductor Pierre Boulez are, Maxwell Davies said, ‘real artists’.

Maxwell Davies is no stranger to controversy. Last year he refused to wear a poppy and boycotted Remembrance parades, stating that the event had been ‘hijacked’ to support military conflict.

Retirement from conducting is expected to cost Maxwell Davies up to £100,000 per year, but he says he considers money as no real incentive. He hopes that the extra time will allow him to focus more readily on composing; his next major task is to write his Ninth Symphony, to be dedicated to the Queen for her 2012 Diamond Jubilee.

Benjamin Goodson