Peter Maxwell Davies slams treatment of classical music in schools

18 November 2013, 10:52 | Updated: 18 November 2013, 12:42

The Master of the Queen's Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, has hit out at the state of music teaching in Britain.

The composer said it was "a disgrace and a shock" that many modern school children have never heard of the likes of Mozart or Beethoven, blaming their lack of knowledge on the government continually treating classical music at an "elitist fringe activity".

He also claimed that the nation is in "grave danger of losing - through not learning or experiencing - centuries of a wealth of wisdom and works."

The composer will step down from his role of Master of the Queen's Music in March 2014, and he also stated that he plans to spend his time "helping to make classical music more accessible to young people."

Maxwell Davies drew comparisons with Shakespeare and Dickens, who he also believes to have fallen out of the curriculum, saying that "It just shows what has gone wrong with areas of the educational system."

He also pointed to the new age of online information as an additional challenge to education: "If the same information is available to everyone, the challenge is who can use it the most creatively? That's why classical music is probably more relevant in today's society than it is has ever been - it hones people's creativity, not just as musicians."