A leading voice in British music and an international figure in modern music, his compositions – ranging from large-scale grand opera to intimate solo piano pieces – have dominated British music for more than five decades.
Among his many compositions, he is best known for The Triumph Of Time and his operas including The Mask Of Orpheus, Gawain and The Minotaur. He received a knighthood in 1988 and was made a Companion of Honour in 2001. Over the course of his career as both performer and teacher, he taught at both King’s College, London, and the Royal Academy of Music.
Vice-Chancellor Dr John Cater said: “The University had the privilege of awarding Sir Harrison Birtwistle an Honorary Doctorate eight years ago for his visionary contribution to music. He was such a distinctive composer, whose work was both compelling and inspirational. As such a giant figure in classical music, he will be much missed.”
The Lancashire-born composer, who has been described as a “national treasure”, was made an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in 2014.
Upon receiving the award at Edge Hill, Sir Harrison advised students to “be ambitious for your ideas and not for yourself”.