C0102. OLIVER KNUSSEN Cond. London Sinfonietta, w.Andrew Crowley, Gareth Hulse, Joan Atherton, John Orford, Mark Van de Wiel, Michael Collins, Michael Thompson, Paul Crossley & Paul Silverthorne: Quotation of Dream (Takemitsu). DG 453 495, recorded 1996. Gatefold Edition w.brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 028945349527
"The British composer Oliver Knussen - who leapt to fame at 15 conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in his First Symphony, created a wild rumpus of an opera out of Maurice Sendak’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, and championed contemporary composers as a conductor and mentor , was a bear of a man who was sometimes likened to one of Sendak’s Wild Things, Mr. Knussen was among the most influential British composers of his generation. His output was not huge - he became known for composing slowly, and missing deadlines - but he leaves behind a catalog of finely wrought works that, while rooted in 20th-century modernism, are beholden to no school but his own.
Many are miniatures or small of scale; even his Symphony #3, one of his most acclaimed works for full orchestra, clocks in at a swift 15 minutes. But they are intricate, and densely packed with rich detail: music from concentrate.
His influence extended far beyond his own pieces. He was also a respected conductor who mentored and championed living composers, including during stints as the artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival in Britain, and as the head of contemporary music at the Tanglewood Music Center, the summer academy of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the Berkshires, from 1986 to 1993.
'He has had a fertilizing and energizing effect on the whole of British music for the last 40 years', the composer George Benjamin, a longtime friend and colleague, said in a telephone interview. 'We have a lively and varied contemporary music world here in the U.K., and a lot of it is owed to him, because of the immensely generous encouragement he gave to generations and generations of composers'.
Stuart Oliver Knussen was born into a musical family in Glasgow on June 12, 1952. His father, Stuart Knussen, was the principal double bass of the London Symphony, giving Mr. Knussen access as a boy to many of the leading figures in the British music world, including the eminent composer Benjamin Britten.
'He invited me to tea - of course I was terribly shy - and treated me seriously', Mr. Knussen recalled of Britten in an interview with THE GUARDIAN in 2012. 'Was I doing counterpoint? Did I plan my pieces carefully? That kind of thing. He was very good at making you feel what you were doing was important, and as if you might be having the same sort of problems he had'.”
- Michael Cooper, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 9 July, 2018