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Oliver Knussen RIP


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Author Topic: Oliver Knussen RIP  (Read 111 times)
jonah
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« on: July 09, 2018, 07:06:15 pm »

The death has just been announced of Oliver Knussen, a visionary conductor who was not as acknowledged as he deserved as a leading composer.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2018, 07:46:46 pm »

I really do not know the music of Oliver Knussen at all although I am aware that he was very highly thought of both as a composer and a conductor.

He clearly had some very considerable health issues of which I was equally unaware.
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Alex Bozman
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2018, 10:00:40 pm »

Very sad news. His later career seems to have been predominantly as a conductor and highly regarded in that regard by fellow-composers. Can recall going to an impressive concert he conducted at the Bridgewater; Carter's Symphonia and Simon Bainbridge's Ad ora incerta, challenging works, which showed his conducting skills at their prime.

I find it difficult to get a handle on Knussen's music, the pieces I have heard are well-crafted and must dig out the cds for another listen. Haven't heard either of the relatively late Horn and Violin Concertos.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2018, 10:30:40 pm »

Knussen's list of compositions is certainly odd. He was precocious in his twenties although most if not all of his orchestral works are very short (less than 20 minutes). But after 1988-when he was still only 36-he composed very little at all:
"The Way to Castle Yonder", op.21a for orchestra (1988-90)   (7 minutes long)
"Flourish with Fireworks", op.22 for orchestra (1988, rev. 1993)  (4 minutes long)
Whitman Settings, op.25a for soprano and orchestra (1992)      (10 minutes long)
Horn Concerto, op.28 (1994)   (12 minutes long)
Violin Concerto, op.30 (2002)   (16 minutes long)
and a further revision of the Symphony in One Movement, op.5 in 2002

In other words he had composed only one new work for orchestra in the last quarter of a century. He made a career as a distinguished conductor of modern music but something seems to have gone badly wrong with his own creativity.
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jonah
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2018, 10:53:41 pm »

Or, maybe, like Howard Ferguson, he stopped composing as he had already written all he needed to?
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2018, 05:33:28 am »

He was very well-known at the time of their creation for his two children's operas, which were commissioned by Glyndebourne - Where The Wild Things Are, and Higglety-Pigglety Pop

Some element of mis-expectation (or mis-coordination) between OK and Glyndebourne resulated in both scores being delivered to the opera house in around 88%-completed format -leading to premieres at which certain scenes had to be narrated from the libretto, as the music was not complete enough to perform. This element distracted from the end result, as certain carping critics were unkind enough to go on (and on) about in print.

In their own genre they are masterpieces, and I would easily rate them alongside pieces like L'Enfant Et Les Sortileges.  It's frankly a pity OK didn't write more for the theatre - as he did so very well.

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Dundonnell
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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2018, 04:59:22 pm »

Or, maybe, like Howard Ferguson, he stopped composing as he had already written all he needed to?

The obituaries I have read indicate that Knussen had very serious health problems-both physical and psychological. He found composing increasingly difficult, was very seldom satisfied with what he had written, subjected it to endless revision or indeed left it incomplete. He became the despair of the BBC.

This is no criticism. It is simply a sad reflection of the reality of a composer who experienced mounting difficulties ever since he was first acclaimed whilst still a teenager and found the exposure very difficult.
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britishcomposer
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 05:24:36 pm »

Tom Service interviewed Oliver Knussen for Music Matters in 2015. A fascinating introduction to the man esp. his reflections about the psychology of creation
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04y9nmt
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