Maxwell Davies’ final work is an opera for kids

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ final completed composition will receive its world premiere in London later this month. The Hogboon is an opera for children, based on a Scottish folk tale taken from Maxwell’s home in Orkney. The premiere takes place at Barbican Centre on 26 June, three months after he died following a battle with cancer.

‘I am so pleased to have finished the children’s opera,’ said Davies in an interview given a few months before his death. ‘I handed in the 98 pages to the publishers…it was a great relief and quite a moment.’

The Hogboon tells the story of Magnus, the seventh son of a seventh son who is taunted by his older brothers. But when a sea monster threatens to destroy his village Magnus comes to the rescue with the help of his spirit friend The Hogboon.

‘It looks like an instant classic on the page,’ said Sir Simon Rattle. ‘He was certainly very proud of it, and was impatient to hear it.’ The conductor also described Maxwell Davies as ‘a man who embodied music, and who wanted it to be part of everybody’s life, from the youngest to the oldest.’

The production brings together professional musicians of London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and young people from LSO Discovery children’s choirs, London Symphony Chorus, and students from Guildhall School. Rattle will conduct the concert, which also includes Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.