“No figure in British contemporary music is more respected than composer-conductor Oliver Knussen”
09.07.2018. It is with great sadness that HarrisonParrott has to announce the death of Oliver Knussen. A legendary figure in the music world, he will be very much missed by those who knew him. We offer our sincere condolences to his family at this very sad time.
One of the pre-eminent composer-conductors in the world today, Oliver Knussen was born in Glasgow in 1952, grew up near London (where his father was principal Double Bass of the London Symphony Orchestra) and now lives in Suffolk. He is presently Artist-in-Association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Richard Rodney Bennett Professor at the Royal Academy of Music.
The recipient of many honours and awards, including the Nemmers Prize in 2006 and the Royal Philharmonic Society Conductor Award in 2009, he has served as Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival (1983 – 98), Head of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music Center (1986 – 93), Principal Guest Conductor of the Hague Residentie Orchestra (1993 – 97), Music Director of the London Sinfonietta (1998 – 2002), and Artist-in-Association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2009 – 2014). He was appointed CBE in 1994 and received the Queen’s Medal for Music 2015.
Together with Colin Matthews he founded the Composition and Performance courses at the Britten-Pears School in 1992. In recent years, he has been invited for residencies at the Royal Academy of Music, the Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, and the Library of Congress in Washington DC.
Among his best-known works are the operas Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop!, written in collaboration with Maurice Sendak, as well as three Symphonies, concertos for Horn and Violin, and many smaller-scale instrumental and vocal works including Ophelia Dances, Coursing, Songs without Voices, Two Organa and Requiem: Songs for Sue.
His 60th birthday was celebrated with special events in Aldeburgh, Amsterdam, Birmingham, London and Tanglewood, and in 2016 his work was the subject of a retrospective Composer Festival given by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. He has recorded some 60 CDs for labels including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Virgin, NMC and Ondine.
Artist in Association: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
“With the grace and precision that is Knussen’s vast gift, clearly owing much to Schuller’s example, the work emerged with impeccable style and wit.”
(Rian Evans, The Guardian, June 2015)
“Concerts always have a charmed perfection under Oliver Knussen’s magic wand. … Knussen’s conducting was wonderfully clean and detailed throughout.”
(The Independent, March 2016)
“the clarity, buoyancy and sheer lucidity of his performances are like shooting stars.”
(The Scotsman, Ken Walton, April 2016)
“Oliver Knussen writes music that is luminous, honed and full of fine detail; the same applies to the way he conducts. In his programmes with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, he always puts light between musical elements – as if he wants us to marvel at each ingredient on its own and then appreciate how it all fits together.”
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