Knussen Masks Op 3 for Solo Flute with Glass Chimes ad Lib


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Knussen Masks Op 3 for Solo Flute with Glass Chimes ad Lib

Knussen Masks Op 3 for Solo Flute with Glass Chimes ad Lib

Publisher-Faber Music


Masks is on the one hand an attempt at exploring differentiated musical characters within a single-line medium, and on the other had a dramatic miniature enacted by the flautist.


Oliver Knussen’s Masks for Flute with optional glass chimes is an intriguing and unusual piece which explores the dramatic aspects of performance. It begins and ends on stage, and is a miniature drama enacted by the soloist, concerning the opposition of two character aspects which are defined visually on stage and also through other movements and gestures. Technically highly demanding and varied, with unconventional effects such as key clicks and flutter tonguing contributing to its colouristic make-up, this 8-minute work contains much to challenge the advanced performer.

‘A dramatic, arresting and ingenious composition in which the soloist’s positions and perambulations, as well as his notes, are indicated’.
Andrew Porter (New Yorker), 11 November 1974

Oliver Knussen

Born in 1952, Oliver Knussen studied composition with John Lambert and Gunther Schuller. At fifteen, he wrote his First Symphony and later gained prominence with his Third Symphony, dedicated to Michael Tilson Thomas. Knussen’s ensemble works like Ophelia Dances and Coursing solidified his position in contemporary British music.

In collaboration with Maurice Sendak, Knussen created operatic double-bills – Where the Wild Things Are and Higgelty Pigglety Pop! Flourish with Fireworks, his concert opener, and his horn and violin concertos entered the standard orchestral repertoire. His recent compositions include Ophelia’s Last Dance, Reflection, and O Hototogisu!

As a composer-conductor, Knussen advocated for contemporary music and recorded prolifically. He received the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Conductor Award and held positions with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Tanglewood Music Center, and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Knussen was also Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival and established the Britten-Pears Programme’s Contemporary Composition and Performance Courses.

Knussen lived in Snape, Suffolk, and was appointed a CBE in 1994. He became the Richard Rodney Bennett Professor of Music at the Royal Academy of Music in 2014 and received various awards, including the Ivor Novello Award for Classical Music and the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2015.

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