Two composers become London professors

Two composers become London professors


norman lebrecht

January 24, 2019

The Dane Hans Abrahamsen has been named as the first Oliver Knussen Chair of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music.

Ryan Wigglesworth becomes Richard Rodney Bennett Professor of Music.

press release:
The Academy’s Principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, said:

‘As we say farewell to Oliver Knussen, a composer, conductor, teacher and polymath, we are delighted to honour him by creating a brand-new Chair of Composition in his name, to be conferred on the great Danish composer, Hans Abrahamsen.

‘Ryan Wigglesworth will assume Olly’s former position as the next Richard Rodney Bennett Professor of Music, as performer and composer. Both figures enjoyed close personal and working connections with Olly and I know he would be completely thrilled that Hans and Ryan have joined the Academy family. Ryan’s celebration concert in December featuring Olly’s The Way to Castle Younger was a particularly moving and memorable tribute.

‘We look forward to continuing the legacy of a great musical creator through these new appointments.’



  • John Borstlap says:

    Abrahamsen writes music consisting of little fragments where the aesthetic interest is in the patterns and nothing more:

    But Wigglesworth is a different matter altogether, writing real music, in floating tonality, close to Schoenberg and Berg before they fell victim to arithmetics:

    • Gen Z Adorno says:

      To say that the aesthetic interest of Abrahamsen’s music is “in the patterns and nothing more” is entirely inaccurate, betraying a total ignorance of textural and formal concerns. It is akin to claiming that Bach wrote too many authentic cadences. Try to listen to contemporary music with an open mind — you might accidentally start to find it stimulating and delightful.

      • John Borstlap says:

        The mental confusion in this comment reveals complete ignorance about the workings of tonality, its tradition, its developments and refinements, and the way it has been discarded altogether in the wake of Schoenberg’s experiments. Music is more than sound patterns, and exactly Bach is an apt demonstration of this. Music consists of sound patters where the small units: the tones, form relationships between different structural layers of the work, creating an inner space in which movement and narrative can happen. Abrahamsen writes patterns without such inner space because the notes don’t form this interrelational space. Read Roger Scruton’s “The Aesthetics of Music” for enlightenment.