Maxwell Davies’ dramatic works include operas Taverner, Resurrection, The Lighthouse and The Doctor of Myddfai, full-length ballets Salome and Caroline Mathilde, and music-theatre pieces Eight Songs for a Mad King and Miss Donnithorne's Maggot. His extensive output of orchestral writing comprises eight symphonies, numerous concerti, and light orchestral pieces including An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise and Mavis in Las Vegas; he has also written five large-scale works for chorus, including the oratorio Job. His most recent series is the landmark cycle of ten string quartets, the Naxos Quartets.
Internationally active as a conductor, Maxwell Davies has held the position of Composer/Conductor with the Royal Philharmonic and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras, and has conducted orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He retains close links with the St Magnus Festival, Orkney’s annual arts festival which he founded in 1977, and is Composer Laureate of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Recent and current commissions include a violin concerto for the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Daniel Hope, orchestral works for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Camerata Salzburg, and a piano concerto for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Angela Hewitt.
Maxwell Davies was knighted in 1987 and appointed Master of the Queen's Music in 2004, in which role he seeks to raise the profile of music in Great Britain, as well as composing for Her Majesty the Queen and for royal occasions.