RIP Sir Harrison Birtwistle

The death (18 April 2022) has been announced of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, one of my musical heroes. I’ve always admired composers and musicians who push the boundaries of what is acceptable and possible, who are uncompromising in their musical output. In the realm of rock music, you have The Fall and Radiohead for example, in orchestral music you have Harrison Birtwistle.

My favourite memory, apart from the music obviously, is when I attended a premiere of one of his pieces at the Royal Festival Hall (London) in the 1970s. The orchestra were dressed in their formal attire, Birtwistle came onto the stage to acknowledge the applause in a scruffy t-shirt, jeans, and trainers. A composer who moved from the edge to the centre of the musical establishment.

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