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Oliver Knussen


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Oliver Knussen (born June 12, 1952 in Glasgow, Scotland) is a UK 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.[6] 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.[1] 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”.[7]

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.

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