Harrison Birtwistle’s “Silbury Air”: Building Imaginary Landscapes

Sir Harrison Birtwistle, one of Britain’s most celebrated composers, passed away on April 18. He was 87. Birtwistle was an uncompromising modernist who created music that was infused with “sonic brashness.” His 1995 work, Panic, for alto saxophone, jazz drum kit, and orchestra caused a minor scandal when it was premiered at BBC’s Last Night of the Proms. As with many of Birtwistle’s works, the inspiration for Panic grew out of mythology. Additional prominent works …

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