UPDATES: The first obit to appear is this, from the London Times; Alex Ross writes that “Some celebrated composers fade after death, their fame dependent on personality and on networks of influence. Harvey, a passionate loner, will only ascend.” Harvey’s publisher, Faber Music, has this remembrance. From Imogen Tilden’s obituary for the Guardian:
“I have worked closely with Jonathan for 30 years,” said Sally Cavender, vice-chairman of Faber Music. “His impact as a composer has been profound and international in its scope. The spirituality of his music also pervaded his personality; no one who met him came away without commenting on his gentleness, generosity and breadth of imagination … Music simply poured out of him, naturally and organically. In every sense he was a superior human being and one that it has been a privilege to know, as much as it has been a delight to treasure his music.”
Also for the Guardian, Ivan Hewitt offers a more musicological approach to Harvey’s music here:
One of the striking things about Harvey’s later works is their hospitality to old-fashioned consonances, including the major triad. When asked why he didn’t go “all the way” and write tonal music, he said self-mockingly that if he did, he would turn into a boring imitation-19th-century Anglican composer. But a deeper reason was that otherworldly electronic sounds were equally attractive to him, and for much the same reason: they were symbols of divine unity.
These were rooted in the complex vibrations of resonating bodies, and could be regarded as natural, whereas the triad is a deeply artificial product of culture. For that reason, some would find the idea of yoking them together inconsistent, but this did not bother Harvey.
Word arrives this morning that British composer Jonathan Harvey has died at the age of 73. Apart from his own splendidly spiritual music, he also wrote two quite fine books, an introduction to the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen and In Quest of Spirit: Thoughts on Music. Obituaries will be added here as they appear; there is also this January 2012 interview with the composer from Tom Service in the Guardian. Service also offers this guide to Harvey’s music. “It’s not every composer whose music is guaranteed to uplift and revivify you, which makes you feel a sense of essential positivity about the world and our place within it,” he writes. “[Harvey] belongs in that special category, and he does it not through creating a trivial sense of comforting musical escapism but by confronting, describing, and transcending the world and its pains, joys and sufferings.”
In the below clip from an interview, Harvey discusses his 2006/2007 composition Speakings: