One of the pre-eminent composer-conductors in the world today, Knussen was born in Glasgow in 1952, and grew up near London, where he attended The Purcell School, and studied composition with John Lambert.
The composer and conductor said he was ‘most surprised and thrilled’ to receive the award.
‘It is an honour for me that this should happen during such a special year for Her Majesty the Queen, and I would also like to remember that Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, much-missed colleague and friend of more than forty years, was instrumental in the instigation of this marvellous symbol of professional recognition, which I am extremely happy – and humbled – to accept.’
Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir, who oversees the nominations for the award, said: ‘Greatly admired and much loved by his musical colleagues, Oliver Knussen is both a revelatory conductor and a masterly composer, whose work always persuades audiences to listen carefully.’
The prize, which was established in 2005, is awarded to an outstanding individual or group of musicians who have had a major influence on the music life of the nation. Oliver Knussen is the second Purcell School alumnus to receive this accolade – oboist, Nicholas Daniel received the Medal in 2011.