BBC Symphony Orchestra

BBC Symphony Orchestra

The BBC Symphony Orchestra has played a central role at the heart of British musical life since its inception in 1930, and as the flagship orchestra of the BBC provides the backbone of the BBC Proms with at least a dozen concerts each year, including the First and Last Nights. Strongly committed to twentieth-century and contemporary music, it has given the premiere of more than 1,000 works by composers such as Bartók, Britten, Hindemith, Holst, Stravinsky and Shostakovich, and more recently has premiered BBC commissions by Simon Bainbridge, Jonathan Dove, Michael Nyman and Sir John Tavener among others. Its annual season of concerts as Associate Orchestra of the Barbican includes a weekend each January focusing upon a single composer from the twentieth or twenty-first century, most recently James MacMillan, Elliott Carter and Sofia Gubaidulina.

Jiří Bĕlohlávek took up the post of Chief Conductor in July 2006 and David Robertson was appointed Principal Guest Conductor in 2005. The BBC SO works frequently with Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis and Artist-in-Association John Adams. All concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and a number are televised, giving the BBC Symphony Orchestra the highest broadcast profile of any orchestra in the UK. The BBC SO is committed to innovative education work, with ongoing projects including the BBC SO Family Orchestra and Music Intro, introducing families to concert-going.

The BBC SO has appeared on 34 of NMC’s CDs, including the best-selling recording of Elgar’s Third Symphony.

Knussen, Oliver


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.

Image Credit: 
Clive Barda

Asbury, Stefan


In demand with leading orchestras worldwide, Stefan Asbury is renowned for his innovative programming. He has particularly strong relationships with  composers including Oliver Knussen, Steve Reich, Wolfgang Rihm, Unsuk Chin and Mark Anthony Turnage, and collaborates regularly with Ensemble Modern, Klangforum Wien, Musikfabrik and the London Sinfonietta.

Since 1995 Stefan Asbury has served on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center and currently holds the Sana H. Sabbagh master teacher chair on the Conducting Faculty which he has held since 2005. He was Music Director of the Remix Ensemble Casa da Musica Porto from 2001-2005, working with them to commissioning and programming an innovative mix of jazz, film and music theatre. From 2011 he has been Chief Conductor of the Noord Nederlands Orkest, after holding the position of Artist in Association with the Tapiola Sinfonietta and working regularly with the Basel Sinfonietta and the NDR Sinfonieorchester (Hamburg). His many opera productions have included John Adams’ A Flowering Tree for the 2009 Perth International Arts Festival, Wolfgang Rihm’s Jakob Lenz for the 2008 Wiener Festwoche, Johannes Maria Staud's Berenice at Munich Biennale and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Karlsruhe.

His recordings include works by Unsuk Chin and Jonathan Harvey with Ensemble Intercontemporain, and an award-winning disc of Gerard Grisey's music with WDR Koln.

  • Total duration: 33'50
  • CD | PRICE £8.99

  • MP3 | 320K 44.1 KHz
    70.6 MB
     | PRICE £5.99

  • FLAC 16 | 16bit 44.1 KHz
    161.00 MB
     | PRICE £6.99

  • Album Booklet PDF | FREE



Holloway's Second Concerto for Orchestra displays the composer at his most thrilling and eclectic. Inspired by a visit to North Africa, the work pulsates with energy and excitement.



'A fascinating disc: the Concerto isn't quite like anything else I know, and in every aspect NMC have served it well. It deserves the widest possible hearing. ... It's bewildering, but gripping at the same time. ... Holloway can swerve from lush, late romanticism to strident modernism and back again with the alarming quickness of an opium dream.' Gramophone



Recording date: 25 April 1993

Recording venue: Studio 1, BBC Maida Vale

Engineers: Tryggvi Trggvason, Andrew Hallifax  
Producers: Oliver Knussen, Colin Matthews 
Editing & mastering: Marian Freeman

Cover image: Francois Hall

(P) 1993 NMC Recordings Ltd

Boosey & Hawkes
Catalogue number:
Release Date:
1 February 1994