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Oliver Knussen, Composer And Conductor, Dies At 66

Conductor and composer Oliver Knussen, seen here in 1994, died July 8 at the age of 66.
Frans Schellekens
/
Redferns via Getty Images
Conductor and composer Oliver Knussen, seen here in 1994, died July 8 at the age of 66.

Composer and conductor Oliver Knussen, one of Britain's most influential contemporary classical figures, died Sunday, July 8, at the age of 66. His passing was announced by his publisher, Faber Music, but no cause of death was given.

Knussen was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and grew up in London, where his father was principal double bass for the London Symphony Orchestra. Knussen conducted his first symphony with the ensemble when he was just 15.

Knussen studied composition with Gunther Schuller at Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts and later was head of contemporary music at the center for eight years. He wrote symphonies, chamber music and operas, including a collaboration with children's author Maurice Sendak on an adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are.

As a conductor, he was a champion of contemporary music and made approximately 60 recordings.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: July 31, 2018 at 9:00 PM PDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Oliver Knussen died on Monday, July 9. He died on Sunday, July 8.
Jeff Lunden
Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.