Harrison Birtwistle dies aged 87

The composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle has died aged 87, report the Guardian and others.

Birtwistle collaborated with Russell Hoban on the 1994 opera The Second Mrs Kong, for which Hoban wrote the libretto.

The opera featured many of Hoban's repeated themes and obsessions including King Kong, the Vermeer Girl, Orpheus and Eurydice.

"I have many memories of our collaboration," Sir Harrison wrote in the booklet accompanying the 2005 Hoban convention, "which I suppose began by my being first introduced to your wonderful novel Riddley Walker and then to your other novels, some of which contain our leading man and hero, Orpheus.

"What I cherish most are the simple details of our collaboration ... I shall be forever in your debt for all of this."

"Birtwistle was an utterly distinctive composer who wrote music of delicate beauty," writes critic Andrew Clement in the Guardian. "The humour that surfaces in sections of his opera The Second Mrs Kong [is] certainly true to character."

The photo shows Birtwistle in the foreground with Hoban on the left and other Mrs Kong collaborators from the opera programme, a scan of which can be found here.