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Classical Composer Jonathan Harvey Dies At 73

December 6, 2012

Tributes have been paid to the British classical composer Jonathan Harvey, who has died in Lewes, east Sussex aged 73.

Harvey, who had motor neurone disease, worked on experimental pieces with electronics as well as writing for orchestras, soloists and choirs.

Radio 3 controller Roger Wright said the composer, who died on Tuesday, had been “a hugely important figure”.

“His was a powerfully original music which rightly received international acclaim,” the BBC Proms director added.

“His gentle spirit and inner strength impressed me greatly and he will be much missed.”

Harvey, a music scholar at St John’s College Cambridge, went on to gain doctorates from Glasgow and Cambridge and was professor of music at Sussex University for 16 years.

His large-scale commission Weltethos, premiered in Berlin in 2011, was performed at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall in June to mark the opening of the London 2012 festival.

The married father of two received a lifetime achievement award this year from the Incorporated Society of Musicians, an accolade he described as “one of the greatest honours of my life”.

The BBC recognised his international standing in January with a weekend dedicated to his music at the Barbican Centre in London.

On Radio 3’s In Tune programme on Wednesday, broadcaster Suzy Klein said Harvey was “a man with a deep spirituality” who had been heavily influenced by Buddhism, Eastern religions and mysticism.

David Hill, chief conductor of the BBC singers, said he was “a genuinely gentle man” who was “totally engaged in humanity” and “always true to himself”.

Despite suffering from serious illness, Harvey completed three pieces of music in the final year of his life.

They were Cirrus Light for solo clarinet, The Annunciation for the choir of St John’s College Cambridge and the choral work Plainsongs for Peace and Light.

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