New Works: My Son the Composer

When Conductor Istvan Kertesz was taken ill prior to a concert by the London Symphony Orchestra last week, the management asked Composer Oliver Knussen if he would lead the prèmiere of his Symphony No. 1.

Knussen agreed, even though he had never conducted a major orchestra before. At the concert, his arm gestures often looked more like karate chops than cues, and his beat faltered briefly in the second movement. But for the most part, he did amazingly well, and his new work—an uninhibited, brightly colored score built around a twelve-tone row—made a handsome impression on the Londoners in the audience,...

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