Buddhism-inspired composer Jonathan Harvey dies at age 73

The modernist composer Jonathan Harvey has died. Harvey, who as a choirboy became interested in religion and spirituality in general — and, later, Buddhism in particular — was adept in a range of musical styles. (Hear his “Tranquil Abiding” below.)


He was a student at the school of the great conductor/composer Pierre Boulez, and was an admirer of Karlheinz Stockhausen, about whom Harvey wrote a book-length study and appreciation.

As Harvey’s obituary from the Sydney Morning Herald tells us, the composer

became an assiduous practitioner of Buddhist-inspired meditation, which was another way to access the all-encompassing One underlying the Many. ‘‘I try to practise Buddhism, but I can’t say I am a Buddhist,’’ he liked to say.[…] Harvey’s mature works include three operas, the most striking of which is undoubtedly the last, Wagner Dream (2006), premiered by the Netherlands Opera. It explores Richard Wagner’s interest in Buddhism and takes place in the imagined final moments of Wagner’s life, in which he has a vision of a Buddhist opera, which he would never compose.

Read more from the Sydney Herald here. (See also this AP report.)
Update: Reader and friend Konchog Norbu points us also to this video from Wagner Dream, about which he writes, “It’s worth it to hear Wagner holler, ‘My life is not accomplished yet! I have something I want to write! My Buddhist drama!’ Also, Vajrayogini herself makes an appearance.”