Outstanding Musician Award for Oliver Knussen

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Outstanding Musician Award for Oliver Knussen

Oliver Knussen - Credit Clive Barda


The second annual Critics’ Circle Music Awards were announced on Friday June 8th in which Oliver Knussen received the accolade of ‘Outstanding Musician’. He will be presented with the Award following the concert he is conducting at the Aldeburgh Festival on June 9th. Knussen, who celebrates his 60th birthday on June 12th is Artist in Residence at the Festival, which opened with a double bill of his operas Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop!

Oliver Knussen is not just a superb composer, but also an inspiring champion of the music of our time. His compositions, stretching back 45 years to the première of his teenage First Symphony, are vibrant products of a supremely fertile musical imagination. Just as important, however, has been his work as a conductor, preparing and performing hundreds of premières with meticulous care and peerless insight. Uncompromising, indefatigable, self-effacing and utterly generous, he has been a beacon and mentor for an entire generation of composers, and an exhilarating guide through the tangled complexities of modern music for audiences both in Britain and abroad. In the week of his 60th birthday, there could be no more worthy recipient of this award from the Critics’ Circle.

The Critics’ Circle Music Awards are voted on by the 76 members of the Music Section of the Critics’ Circle on the strength of the special impression that the artists make in the UK both through live performances and recordings. In addition to an annual Outstanding Musician Award, the Critics’ Circle presents three Awards for Exceptional Young Talent. This year’s exceptional young artists are in the three categories of conductor/composer, singer and instrumentalist. They are: Nicholas Collon (conductor); Matthew Rose (bass); and Benjamin Grosvenor (pianist).

Music critics are famous for their individual and independent opinions, and the Critics’ Circle Music Awards are the only classical music awards that are arrived at by a consensus of critical opinion. For all those who love music but are overwhelmed by the quantity – and quality – of available interpretations, there can be fewer better markers than the collective views of the 76 music critics across print, broadcast and digital media that make up the Critics’ Circle who, between them spend more than 3000 hours per week listening for the ultimate musical experience.

Founded in 1913, the Critics’ Circle is a professional association of British critics of dance, drama, film, music, visual arts and architecture. In addition to an annual award voted for by all members of the Critics’ Circle – the Critics’ Circle Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts – each section of the Critics’ Circle has its own Awards, the oldest of which is The London Film Critics’ Circle Awards, established in 1980.

Roger Jones