The London Sinfonietta's mission is to place the best contemporary classical music at the heart of today's culture; engaging and challenging the public through inspiring performances of the highest standard, and taking risks to develop new work and talent.
The ensemble is Resident Orchestra at Southbank Centre with headquarters at Kings Place, and continues to take the best contemporary music to venues and festivals across the UK and worldwide with a busy touring schedule. Since its inaugural concert in 1968 - giving the world premiere of Sir John Tavener's The Whale - the London Sinfonietta's commitment to making new music has seen it commission over 300 works, and premiere many hundreds more.
The core of the London Sinfonietta is 18 Principal Players, representing some of the best solo and ensemble musicians in the world. The ensemble has just launched its Emerging Artists Programme, which will give professional musicians at the start of promising and brilliant careers the opportunity to work alongside those Principal Players on stage across the season.
The London Sinfonietta's recordings present a catalogue of 20th-century classics, on numerous prestigious labels as well as the ensemble's own London Sinfonietta Label. Most recently, a performance of Philip Cashian's Piano Concerto was released on NMC.
Born in Glasgow in 1952, Knussen grew up near London, where his father was principal double bass of the London Symphony Orchestra. It was with the LSO that he made his debut in April 1968, conducting his First Symphony in London and in Carnegie Hall, New York. In 1970 he was awarded the first of three fellowships to Tanglewood, where he studied with Gunther Schuller. During this time he completed several works which were subsequently widely performed on both sides of the Atlantic and established his early reputation. In 1975 Knussen returned permanently to the UK.
From 1983 till 1998, Knussen was an Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival, and also held posts at the Tanglewood Music Center and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In 1992, with Colin Matthews, he established the Contemporary Composition and Performance courses at the Britten-Pears School in Snape.
After many years of close collaboration with the London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen became Music Director in 1998, and in 2002 was made Conductor Laureate. In 2006 he was appointed Artist in Association with the BCMG. Among his many awards are Honorary Memberships of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Royal Philharmonic Society, an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the 2004 Association of British Orchestras Award. In 2006 he was named the second recipient of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University, USA.
He has guest-conducted in many parts of the world, including in the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan. As a conductor he has recorded more than thirty CDs of contemporary music, several of which have won international awards - these include Robin Holloway's Concerto for Orchestra No.2, which won NMC's first Gramophone Award, and Maxwell Davies' opera Taverner.
He became a CBE in the 1994 Birthday Honours.
Two vital orchestral works by this key figure of the celebrated 'Manchester School' of post-war British composers and one of the most influential teachers of composition.
'So well performed and recorded. This is one of the most substantial and rewarding of NMC's recent releases.' Hi Fi News & Record Review
Produced in association with BBC Radio 3
Recording date: 18 June 1993 (Piano Concerto), 26 September 1992 (Symphony)
Recording venue: Snape Maltings, Suffolk (Piano Concerto), BBC Studio 1, Broadcasting House, Glasgow (Symphony)
Engineers: Steve Portnoi / Tony Kime
Producers: Chris Marshall, Oliver Knussen / Hugh Macdonald / Richard Bernas
Editing & mastering: Marian Freeman
Cover image: Gravestone from Jewish Cemetery, Prague
(P) 1995 NMC Recordings Ltd