Leading British composer died peacefully on Tuesday evening
The composer Jonathan Harvey has died at the age of 73. Harvey was one of the most prominent British composers of his generation, taking ideas and techniques from the European avant-garde, and forging them into a distinctive personal style.
Harvey first came to international attention in the 1970s with his electronic music created at IRCAM, the studio set up in Paris by Pierre Boulez. In Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco, he famously combined the sound of a cathedral bell with the voice of a boy treble, exploring an ethereal middle ground between the two timbres. In his later music, Harvey specialised in combining live performers with real-time electronic sound manipulation, always keeping abreast of the latest technology in the field.
Harvey was deeply influenced by Eastern religions, and concepts from Buddhism regularly informed the titles and the spirituality of his works.
His large-scale works have received increasing attention in the UK over the last decade. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra commissioned, performed and recorded many of his compositions, and the orchestra’s previous conductor, Ilan Volkov, proved a tireless champion of Harvey’s music. A recent cantata Weltethos, originally commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic, received a number of performances in the UK in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
Harvey had been suffering from motor neurone disease, and died at a hospice in Sussex on Tuesday.