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Oliver Knussen - JPop.com
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Oliver Knussen

Oliver Knussen

Oliver Knussen


Oliver Knussen (Stuart Oliver Knussen, Glasgow, Scotland, June 12, 1952) was a Scottish composer and conductor. He began composing at about the age of six, but it was an ITV programme about his father's work with the London Symphony Orchestra that prompted the commissioning for his first symphony (1966-1967). Aged 15, Knussen stepped in to conduct his symphony's première at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 7 April 1968 after István Kertész fell ill. Read more on Last.fm
Oliver Knussen (Stuart Oliver Knussen, Glasgow, Scotland, June 12, 1952) was a Scottish composer and conductor. He began composing at about the age of six, but it was an ITV programme about his father's work with the London Symphony Orchestra that prompted the commissioning for his first symphony (1966-1967). Aged 15, Knussen stepped in to conduct his symphony's première at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 7 April 1968 after István Kertész fell ill. After that debut, Daniel Barenboim asked him to conduct the work's first two movements in New York a week later. In this work and his Concerto for Orchestra (1968-1970), he had quickly and fluently absorbed the influences of composers Benjamin Britten and Alban Berg as well as many mid-century (largely American) symphonists, whilst displaying an unusual flair for pacing and orchestration.

It was as early as the Second Symphony (1970-1971), in the words of Julian Anderson, that "Knussen's compositional personality abruptly appeared, fully formed". Knussen has been Principal Guest Conductor of The Hague's Het Residentie Orkest (Residentie Orchestra) between 1992 and 1996, the Aldeburgh Festival's co-Artistic Director between 1983 and 1998 and the London Sinfonietta's Music Director between 1998 and 2002 – and is now that ensemble's Conductor Laureate. Since September 2006, Knussen had been Artist-in-Association to the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, a contemporary chamber ensemble. His major works from the 1980s are his two "children's operas", Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop!, both libretti by Maurice Sendak – and based on Sendak's own eponymous children's books. Oliver Knussen was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His father, Stuart Knussen, was principal double bass of the London Symphony Orchestra, and also participated in a number of premieres of Benjamin Britten's music. Oliver Knussen studied composition with John Lambert between 1963 and 1969, and also received encouragement from Britten. He spent several summers studying with Gunther Schuller at Tanglewood in Massachusetts and in Boston.

He later became the head of contemporary music activities at Tanglewood, between 1986 and 1993. He was married to Sue Knussen, a US-born producer and director of music programmes for BBC television and for the UK's Channel 4 – for which she made Leaving Home, an introduction to 20th-century music presented by Simon Rattle in a series of seven one-hour programmes, which won the 1996 BAFTA award for "Best Arts Series". She ran the Los Angeles Philharmonic's education department in the late 1990s. Oliver and Sue Knussen had a daughter, Sonya, who is a mezzo-soprano. Sue Knussen died of a blood infection in London in 2003.

The Sue Knussen Composers Fund (previously, the Sue Knussen Commissioning Fund) "honours her memory and professional legacy...and...commissions works from emerging composers to be performed by contemporary music ensembles worldwide." Knussen lived in Snape, Suffolk, Benjamin Britten's base during one of his most creative periods.[5] Snape Maltings concert hall is the home of the Aldeburgh Festival. Knussen died on 9 July 2018, aged 66. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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