When I was a young composer in England, Oliver Knussenwas encouraging of my work, and in 1982 conducted the first performance of my Concerto for Orchestra with the London Sinfonietta. The following year, I moved to Australia, but I stayed in touch with him. Receiving letters in his tiny, precise handwriting was always an education. He was possibly the wisest musician I ever met.

In July 1992, I was in Europe collecting the final interviews for my book Composer to Composer. One morning, I drove from London to Birmingham to interview Karlheinz Stockhausen, who was preparing a performance of Sternklangin a park, then headed east to Cambridge for an interview over afternoon tea with Alexander Goehr. Finally, I drove as far east as you can can go in England, to Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, where Britten had lived and had his festival. By now, Oliver Knussen was an Artistic Director of the Aldebugh Festival and, a couple of years earlier, had moved from London to live there.

It was already the middle of the evening by the time I arrived. I’d had a big day and was ready for a drink. Olly didn’t much like doing interviews...

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