Stories » Max Richter's 'Voices' takes its theme from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights / iNews

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Max Richter's 'Voices' takes its theme from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights / iNews

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There are enough records in the world already, thinks the ­composer Max Richter.

So when he writes music, there has to be a "good reason". So far, those have included the Kosovo War, which he tackled on his debut album Memoryhouse in 2002, the Iraq War, the subject of 2004's The Blue Notebooks, and the 7/7 bombings, on 2010's Infra. 2015's eight-and-a-half-hour concept album Sleep was intended as a break from the pressures of the digital age and became a classical phenomenon, streamed more than 450 million times.

His latest, Voices, began with the contemplative violin and piano-led "Mercy", which takes its inspiration from the "Torture Memos", which revealed how prisoners were treated at Guantánamo Bay, that had left him "dumbstruck". "It felt like the world had gone wrong in a new way, and I wrote ‘Mercy' as a way to figure that out. A bigger piece of protest music was set in motion right then."

The resulting album takes its theme from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, which set the aspirational blueprint for better times after the Second World War.

Music has always been a rebellion for Richter. He was born in Germany, and his family moved to Bedford when he was four. He took piano lessons, but dropped out of school at 16 because he hated it.

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