The Paul Sacher Foundation, Basel has announced the acquisition of The Oliver Knussen Collection.
Founded in 1973 the foundation developed into a highly recognised international research centre for the music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with some hundred estates and collections from leading composers and performers including Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez, Béla Bartók, Edgar Varèse, Anton Webern, György Ligeti, and Hans Werner Henze – to name just a few. Other British composers with collections housed there include Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Jonathan Harvey. Besides Knussen’s musical manuscripts, the Collection – which has been made possible thanks to the generous support of André Hoffmann – also includes correspondence, programme booklets and reviews, as well as sound recordings. It will be expanded on an ongoing basis.
The acquisition of the collection was marked on 14 February with a concert by soprano Claire Booth and Ensemble Recherche which included Knussen’s Reflection, Four Late Poems and an Epigram of Rainer Maria Rilke, Cantata, and the Whitman Settings, alongside George Benjamin’s Olicantus (in a previously unpublished version for piano) as well as music by Carter, Henze and Stravinsky.
The concert also included Patrick Gallois giving the premiere of the revised version of Knussen’s Study for ‘Metamorphosis’ for solo bassoon, a 5-and-a-half-minute work originally written in April 1972 and revised especially for the Sacher concert, with a new dedication ‘to the memory of Alan Stout, American composer, teacher and polymath, a dear friend for 50 years.’ The Metamorphosis of the title is Kafka’s, on which Knussen had once planned to base a large piece. Knussen has described this study as ‘a cartoon’ for the larger project.