Celebrating Olly - a portrait of a friend


Celebrating Olly is a collection of pieces for cello written to celebrate what would have been 70th birthday of Oliver Knussen (1952-2018). The 18 pieces are written by Olly's composer friends to be played by his very close friend Anssi Karttunen. It is well known that Olly had a insatiable appetite for very surprising variety of music as well as very eclectic selection of friends. He was totally committed to both.

The first peformance of the cycle was - appropriately - at the Aldeburgh Festival on the 24th of June 2022 as part of the Oliver Knussen day, celebrating his 70th birthday.

Olly passed away suddenly in 2018 leaving his friends with a huge space to fill in our hearts. Now that few years have passed it is possible to remember the musician, magician, librarian - in essence, the worlds largest little boy.

This collection of pieces started spontaneously when Kaija Saariaho finished her Lullaby for Olly. Several other friends asked to join in with homages and before we knew around twenty of his best friends had joined to create an impressive cycle of solo cello pieces to celebrate one of the most immense musicians.


Celebrating Olly:

Julian Anderson                 Maisema (2020)

Charlotte Bray                     From the Innermost Places (2022)

Philip Cashian                     The Art of Memory (2021)

Tansy Davies                      gem (2022)

Detlev Glanert                     Little Letter for Olly (2021)

Jo Kondo                             A Song for the Owl (2021)

Brad Lubman                      For Anssi for OK (2021)

Zoe Martlew                         O-lude (2022)

Colin Matthews                   Three Fragments (2020)

Augusta Read Thomas       Riddle (2022)and Dream Catcher (2022)

Poul Ruders                         Last Post  - a tune for Olly (2021)

Kaija Saariaho                     Lullaby (2020)

Esa-Pekka Salonen             Arabesques for Olly (2022)

Sean Shepherd                    familiar (2022)

Mark-Anthony Turnage       Song for Big Owl (2020)

Ryan Wigglesworth             Barcarolly (2022)

Rob Zuidam                         F'olly (2022)

Here you can listen to all the Celebrating Olly pieces:

Librarian Olly

Equilibrist Olly

Policeman Olly

Doctor Olly, CBE

Conductor Olly and a friend posing for a Japanese fan

One's best friend Olly