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Nicholas Maw

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Nicholas Maw (born 1935 in Grantham; died 2009 in Washington D.C.) was a British composer.

Maw was best known for his orchestral piece Odyssey (1987), the guitar work Music of Memory (1989) and a violin concerto (1993) written for Joshua Bell. His music has been described as neo-romantic but also as modernist and non-tonal (for instance Personæ, his ongoing cycle of piano pieces). Latterly, he was a member of the composition faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music at The Johns Hopkins University.

In 2002, Maw’s opera Sophie’s Choice, commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, was premièred at the Royal Opera House under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle, and received its North American premiere by the Washington National Opera in October of 2006. Mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager, who sang Sophie in London, reprised the title role at the National Opera, joined by American baritone Rod Gilfry as Nathan Landau, the schizophrenic man who initially rescues Sophie and then persuades her to join him in a suicide pact.

A performance of Sophie’s Choice took place in BBC’s Maida Vale studios on December 9th, 2005, which was broadcast on BBC’s Radio 3 on December 11, 2005.

Simon Rattle has also conducted a recording of Odyssey with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Nicholas Maw died, aged 73, at home in Washington D.C. on May 19th 2009.

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