Oliver Knussen in Boston

Jul 12, 2018

When composer and conductor Oliver Knussen led the Boston Symphony Orchestra for what turned out to be the final time, he gave an interview that reveals his rare combination of wit, curiosity, and intellect.

Knussen, who passed away earlier this week, was in Boston in April of 2013 to lead the BSO, as well as to receive an honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory of Music, an event that included a performance of his music by Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

I interviewed Knussen for his BSO program, one that truly reflects the unexpected connections and musical integrity he was so well known for:

  • Miaskovsky - Symphony No. 10
  • Knussen - Violin Concerto, Op. 30
  • Knussen - Whitman Settings, Op. 25a (with soprano Claire Booth)
  • Mussorgsky, trans. Stokowski - Pictures at an Exhibition

Listening to this interview again, I'm stunned by Knussen's thoughtful eloquence, not to mention the generosity of his answers to my admittedly very pedestrian questions. And even though we talk about a very specific program, his thoughts, expressed in his unique voice, support what so many who knew him better have said or posted in the last few days: that Oliver Knussen was a person of rare warmth, friendship, and brilliance.

I hope you enjoy the interview.