Acclaimed Scottish composer & conductor Oliver Knussen has passed away, following a short illness – aged just 66.
A student of John Lambert and Gunther Schuller, he will be remembered as one of the most influential and performed composers of his generation.
Maestro Kussen’s signature works include his Third Symphony, premiered in 1979 by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, his Flourish with Fireworks, his operas Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! – and his Violin Concerto, premiered in 2002 by Pinchas Zukerman.
Throughout his four decade career, Maestro Knussen served as Music Director of the London Sinfonietta, Head of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music Center, Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival – and as Artist in Association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
“Olly was the greatest musician I’ve ever known … he was a major British composer and conductor – by far the best of his generation … with ears even better than Boulez’s …” composer Mark Anthony Turnage has told The British Guardian.
“He was also my closest friend … with such a kind heart, and was like my Dad … the loss to me but also to us all is incalculable,” he has said.
“There is no composer more refined in technique and imagination, no conductor more precise and fastidious, no mentor more generous, and no-one who understands the repertoires of new music better,” Royal Academy of Music Professor Richard Rodney Bennett has told local press.
Our condolences are with his family, friends and colleagues.