Oliver Knussen (1952-2018)

Oliver Knussen, composer, conductor and mentor to a generation of younger British composers, has died at 66.

Best-known for “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Higglety Piggelty Pop!” operas based on Maurice Sendak’s children’s stories, Knussen also produced a limited but potent range of concert works and was a mainstay of contemporary music ensembles in Britain and elsewhere.

Born in Glasgow, son of Stuart Knussen, the principal double-bassist and onetime chairman of the London Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen began composing as a young child. He conducted the LSO in his First Symphony in 1968, when he was 16. (He subsequently withdrew the work.)

In maturity, Knussen was co-artistic director at Aldeburgh, the music festival founded by Benjamin Britten, from 1983 to 1998, and led the contemporary music program at Tanglewood from 1986 to 1993.

On July 6, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Royal Academy of Music in London.

An obituary by Imogen Tilden for The Guardian:


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