chapter  2
17 Pages

2 Sacrificial passions: The influence of Wagner and Scruton in James MacMillan’s The Sacrifice and St John Passion


The Scottish Catholic composer James MacMillan (b. 1959) has frequently cited Wagner as one of his earliest musical heroes. At the age of 11, he wrote a piece entitled Tribute to Richard Wagner for six tubas and orchestra, and this admiration extended well beyond his formative years, through his doctoral studies at Durham University and into his current compositional language.1 Tristan und Isolde has become a work of particular significance to the composer, and has been quoted by MacMillan in works spanning several decades (1985-2009).