Professor Oliver Knussen

Composition - Richard Rodney Bennett Professor of Music

Made his conducting debut with the LSO in April 1968 in London and the Carnegie Hall, New York

His first major works, Coursing and the Third Symphony, placed him in the forefront of contemporary British music

Artist in Association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

Winner of the Critics Circle award for an ‘Outstanding Musician’ in 2012

University of London Professor

One of the pre-eminent composer-conductors in the world today, Oliver Knussen CBE was born in Glasgow in 1952, grew up near London (where his father was Principal Double Bass of the London Symphony Orchestra) and now lives in Suffolk. He is presently Artist-in-Association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett Professor of Music at the Royal Academy of Music. 

The recipient of many honours and awards, including the Nemmers Prize in 2006 and the RPS Conductor Award in 2009, he has served as Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival (1983–98), Head of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music Center (1986–93), Principal Guest Conductor of the Hague Residentie Orchestra (1993–97), Music Director of the London Sinfonietta (1998–2002) and Artist-in-Association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2009–14). 
Together with Colin Matthews he founded the composition and performance courses at the Britten–Pears School in 1992 and in recent years has been invited for residencies at the Royal Academy of Music, the New England Conservatory, the Eastman School of Music and the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Among his best-known works are the operas Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop!, written in collaboration with the late Maurice Sendak, as well as three symphonies, concertos for horn and violin and smaller-scale works, including Ophelia Dances, Coursing, Songs without Voices, Two Organa and Songs for Sue. 
His sixtieth birthday was celebrated with special events in Aldeburgh, Amsterdam, Birmingham, London and Tanglewood and he has recorded more than fifty CDs for labels including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Virgin and NMC.

He was appointed Professor of the University of London in February 2016.

Photo by Mark Allan, BBC


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