Legendary composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle, acclaimed for The Triumph of Time, dies aged 87


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

  • British composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle died aged 87 yesterday
  • 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 after his death at the age of 87.

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

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

Composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle (pictured in 2006) has died aged 87, his publisher has confirmed

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

Sir Birtwistle (pictured receiving 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 Honor in 2001.

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

In 2014 he won his fifth Royal Philharmonic Society Music Prize, making him the most honored musician in the history of the prize.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra said: “We are paying homage to a true musical colossus. His music shook the Earth.’

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

A statement posted on his publisher’s website read: “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 years old.”

Sir Harrison’s music has attracted international conductors and has been featured in major festivals and concert series in Europe, the United States and Japan.

The London Symphony Orchestra also paid tribute, saying: “Sad news to hear today that one of Britain’s greatest composers, Harrison Birtwistle, has died.”

“Our thoughts go out to his family and friends, and to his entire musical family.”

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