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Symphony No.6 was composed in Hoy, Orkney, in the first half of 1996.
The starting-off point is a slow tune - a treated version of an Australian aboriginal song - from Time and the Raven, a work commissioned to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. This is heard at the outset, as an introduction to the first movement, and returns at the close of the symphony, having been subjected to continuous transformations in between.
The symphony was written with friends in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra very much in mind, recognising - I hope constructively calling upon - their very special musical virtuosity.
It is dedicated to the memory of George Mackay Brown, the Orkney writer to whose work I owe so much and who died just as the piece was reaching completion.
© Peter Maxwell Davies
This programme note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer