Malcolm Williamson

Australian composer

Malcolm Williamson, Australian composer who the first non-Briton to be named master of the queen’s music, died March 2 in Cambridge, England, after a long illness. He was 71.

The post of master of the queen’s music is the U.K.’s musical equivalent of poet laureate, and the incumbent is expected to write fanfares and other works for royal or state occasions.

Williamson studied at the Sydney Conservatory from age 11. He moved to London in 1950, working as a proofreader, parish church organist and nightclub pianist. Williamson converted to Roman Catholicism in 1952 and composed four Masses, numerous choral and orchestral pieces. He also wrote 11 operas, including “Our Man in Havana,” “Julius Caesar Jones” and “The Death of Cuchulain.”

In 1975, Williamson received the appointment as master of the queen’s music.

He is survived by his wife, Dolly; a son; and two daughters.

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