Legendary composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle dies aged 87

Legendary composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle, who won acclaim for his 1972 work The Triumph of Time, dies aged 87

  • A British composer, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, died yesterday at the age of 87
  • Best known for The Triumph Of Time and operas such as The Mask Of Orpheus
  • The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra paid tribute saying his ‘music shook the Earth’

Composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle was hailed a ‘true musical colossus’ yesterday following his death at the age of 87.

Tributes poured in for the prolific musician who found international acclaim for his 1972 composition The Triumph of Time and his 2008 opera The Minotaur.

Born in Accrington, Lancashire, in 1934, Sir Harrison – whose works were often met with controversy – became musical director of the Royal National Theatre in London in 1975, a post he held until 1983.

The composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle (pictured in 2006) has died at age 87, his publisher has confirmed

Sir Birtwistle (pictured reiving an award from the Queen in 2001) is most famous for The Triumph Of Time, The Mask Of Orpheus and Gawain and The Minotaur

He received a knighthood in 1988 and was made a Companion of Honour in 2001.

His only film score was for the 1973 crime drama The Offence, starring Sean Connery.

In 2014, he won his fifth Royal Philharmonic Society music award, making him the most honoured musician in the history of the prize.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra said: ‘We pay tribute to a true musical colossus. His music shook the Earth.’

Sir Harrison, who died yesterday at his home in Mere, Wiltshire, is survived by sons Adam, 63, and Silas, 59.

A statement posted on his publisher’s website said: ‘Boosey & Hawkes and Rayfield Allied announce with deep sadness the death of Sir Harrison Birtwistle CH on 18 April 2022 at his home in Mere, UK, at the age of 87.’

The music of Sir Harrison has attracted international conductors and been featured in major festivals and concert series in Europe, the USA and Japan.

The London Symphony Orchestra also paid their respects, saying: ‘Sad news to hear today that one of the greatest British composers, Harrison Birtwistle, has died.

‘Our thoughts to his family and friends, and all his musical family too.’

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