Knussen, Oliver. (1952–2018)
Symphony For Television [Symphony No. 1] - Autograph Musical Manuscript
Autograph musical manuscript of the first three (of four) movements of the composer's Symphony No. 1. In three parts, in very fine condition throughout, as follows:
I. Folio (ca. 360 x 260 mm.). Autograph title page affixed to front manuscript sheet "commissioned by Rediffusion Television Limited, London / SYMPHONY FOR TELEVISION (1966) by Stuart Oliver Knussen / I. Allegto Brillante," verso with affixed sheet listing titles of the four movements (I. Allegro Brillante (Sonata); II. Lento (Elegia); III. Scherzo (Satire); IV. Finale (Tema con Variazioni)" and Instrumentation; 29 pp musical manuscript of 197 measures notated in ink on 15 leaves of 28-stave music manuscript paper, titled, dated, signed and notated further at the head of the first page of music: "May 1st - Nov. 20th 1966 / SYMPHONY for TELEVISION (1966) / Stuart Oliver Knussen" and at the conclusion (p. 29) "S.O. Knussen / 21st September - October 17th 1966 / Orchestration Completed October 20th, 1966."
II. Folio (ca. 360 x 260 mm.). 7 pp autograph musical manuscript of 60 measures notated in ink on 4 leaves of 16-stave music manuscript paper, annotated, titled, and dated at the head of the first page of music: "Duration 5-6 mins," "VARIATION 3 / Elegy," and "10th-18th May, 1966" and at the conclusion (p. 7) "Lambeth, Walford - May 18th 1966."
III. Folio (ca. 360 x 260 mm.). 9 pp autograph musical manuscript of 162 measures notated in ink on 5 leaves of 20-stave music manuscript paper, titled and dated at the head of the first page of music: "II. Scherzo (A Play - Satire / VARIATION 4 [cancelation marks] / May 30th-Sept 1st 1966" and at the conclusion (p. 9) "Sept 1st, 1966."
Together with an International Music Company Ltd. promotional flyer for the young composer, advertising the upcoming premiere of the work and forthcoming publication; Full score autograph manuscript facsimile (not of this copy) of the final revised entire work, titled "Symphony No. 1 by Oliver Knussen / commissioned by Rediffusion Television Ltd, London / (May 1st - November 20th 1966. Revised October- December 1967)," upright folio, 93 pp, pink wrappers, issued by International Music Company Ltd. (London) ; Printed full score first edition, 72 pp, gray wrappers, issued by International Music Company Ltd. (London), 1968.
Tony Cooke, the original recipient of the present manuscript, was also the dedicatee of two other Knussen works ("Two Pieces for Violoncello and Piano" and "Skyray - Film Score"). He writes in an email that "Way back before time started, during my time in London, I was Oliver Knussen’s best friend. We spent our weekends hanging out together in music stores, attending rehearsals and concerts, and digging endless musical materials he and his dad had accumulated over the years. Ollie was very precocious, and, of course, went on to have a very illustrious career. I was present in the Royal Festival Hall when he conducted the premiere of his First Symphony with the LSO...He and I were mostly out of touch ever since we became adults, because I moved to the US, and Ollie’s life had already grown very complicated. We had a wonderful 2-hour phone conversation in the middle of the night a few years back, and I believe that was the last time we were in direct contact. He seemed the same as ever, but did share with me that he had some major health concerns. Of course, it was a blow to find out since that he had died in 2018—not so long after our phone conversation."
Oliver Knussen was a towering figure in contemporary music, as composer and conductor, teacher and artistic director and created a body of work characterised by its crystalline concision, complexity and richness. He began composing at about the age of six and studied composition with John Lambert in London and Gunther Schuller at Tanglewood. An ITV programme about his father's work with the London Symphony Orchestra prompted the commissioning for his first symphony (1966–1967). Aged 15, Knussen stepped in to conduct his symphony's première at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 7 April 1968, after István Kertész fell ill. After his debut, Daniel Barenboim asked him to conduct the work's first two movements in New York a week later. (Bayan Northcott, "Oliver Knussen", The Musical Times, Vol. 120, No. 1639. (September 1979), pp. 729–732). In this work and his Concerto for Orchestra (1968–1970), he had quickly and fluently absorbed the influences of modernist composers Britten and Berg as well as many mid-century (largely American) symphonists, while displaying an unusual flair for pacing and orchestration. His Third Symphony (1973-9), dedicated to Michael Tilson Thomas, is now widely regarded as a twentieth-century classic. A number of dazzling ensemble works, including Ophelia Dances (a Koussevitzky centennial commission, 1975) and Coursing (1979), cemented Knussen’s position at the forefront of contemporary British music and many of his works have entered the standard International orchestral and soloist repertoire. In the 1980s, Knussen collaborated with Maurice Sendak on an operatic double-bill – Where the Wild Things Are (1979-83) and Higgelty Pigglety Pop! (1984-5, rev. 1999). Originally produced by Glyndebourne Festival Opera, these works have been performed extensively in both Europe and the USA and have been recorded on CD and video. As one of the foremost composer-conductors in the world, Knussen was renowned for his unfailing advocacy across a wide range of contemporary music.
Significant manuscripts of contemporary music very rarely appear for sale; most remain with the composers themselves or their publishers. This and the other two unpublished and previously unrecorded Knussen manuscripts offered here, represent an extraordinary opportunity to acquire works from the very beginning of the career of one of the most important British composers of the last 50 years.