Obituary: composer and conductor Oliver Knussen, 66

Posted on: July 10, 2018

“British composer and conductor Oliver Knussen has died at age 66,” writes Imogen Tilden in Monday’s (7/9) Guardian (London). “Knussen was one of the most influential and performed composers of his generation [and supported] younger composers who included Mark-Anthony Turnage, Julian Anderson and Ryan Wigglesworth…. Knussen began composing as a teenager—his first symphony was premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in 1968 conducted by the young composer himself…. He … went on to be head of contemporary music [at Tanglewood] from 1986 to 1993. Between 1983 and 1998 he was Aldeburgh festival’s co-artistic director, and he also had relationships with groups including the London Sinfonietta and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group…. His best-known compositions include Ophelia Dances, Flourish with Fireworks and concertos for horn and violin, as well as a double bill of operas based on Maurice Sendak’s fantastical children’s books Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! Requiem: Songs for Sue, a tribute to his late wife, was premiered in 2006…. All these scores epitomize Knussen’s bejeweled, concise style, music with roots in early 20th-century modernism…. At last month’s Aldeburgh festival … he conducted the UK premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s song setting The Borrower.”

Posted July 10, 2018

Oliver Knussen photo by David Sillitoe