The Queen's Medal for Music 2015


The Queen has approved the award of Her Majesty’s Medal for Music 2015 to Mr Oliver Knussen CBE.

The prize, established in 2005, is awarded to an outstanding individual or group of musicians who have had a major influence on the musical life of the nation. 

Mr Knussen will be presented with the award by The Queen in an audience at Buckingham Palace. 

Mr Knussen is the eleventh recipient of the award, following Simon Halsey CBE who received The Queen's Medal for Music 2014 last year.

The nominating process for the award is overseen by a committee under the chairmanship of the Master of The Queen's Music, currently Judith Weir.  The committee's recommendation is then submitted to The Queen for her approval. The committee members are The Lord Berkeley of Knighton, Susanna Eastburn, Gillian Moore, Richard Morrison, Professor Piers Hellawell and Sir Curtis Price.

Commenting on the award, Judith Weir said: "Greatly admired and much loved by his musical colleagues, Oliver Knussen is both a revelatory conductor and a masterly composer, whose work always persuades audiences to listen carefully. With characteristic generosity and warmth, he has supported the practice of music in numerous ways: as a musical director of leading festivals, orchestras and ensembles, including the Aldeburgh Festival, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; and as an informal adviser, teacher and friend to several generations of musicians in the UK and further afield."

On hearing of the award Mr Knussen said: "I am most surprised and thrilled to be chosen to receive The Queen's Medal for Music and thus to join such a distinguished list of admired colleagues. It is an honour for me that this should happen during such a special year for Her Majesty The Queen, and I would also like to remember that Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, much-missed colleague and friend of more than forty years, was instrumental in the instigation of this marvellous symbol of professional recognition, which I am extremely happy--and humbled--to accept."

Biography: Oliver Knussen CBE

One of the pre-eminent composer-conductors in the world today, Oliver Knussen was born in Glasgow in 1952, grew up near London (where his father was principal Double Bass of the London Symphony Orchestra) and now lives in Suffolk.  He is presently Artist-in-Association with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Richard Rodney Bennett Professor of Music at the Royal Academy of Music.

The recipient of many honours and awards, including the Nemmers Prize in 2006 and the RPS Conductor Award in 2009, he has served as Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival (1983-98), Head of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music Center (1986-93), Principal Guest Conductor of the Hague Residentie Orchestra (1993-97), Music Director of the London Sinfonietta (1998-2002), and Artist-in-Association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2009-2014).  He was appointed a CBE in 1994.

Together with Colin Matthews he founded the Composition and Performance Courses at the Britten-Pears School in 1992 and in recent years has been invited for residencies at the Royal Academy of Music, the New England Conservatory, the Eastman School of Music, and the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Among his best-known works are the operas Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop!, written in collaboration with the late Maurice Sendak, as well as three symphonies, concertos for horn and violin, and smaller-scale works includingOphelia Dances, Coursing, Flourish with Fireworks, Songs without Voices, Two Organa and Songs for Sue. 

His 60th birthday was celebrated with special events in Aldeburgh, Amsterdam, Birmingham, London and Tanglewood and he has recorded more than 50 CDs for labels including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Virgin and NMC.