Douglas Knehans
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The Latest Album

…the sounds of nature course through the orchestral pieces on his latest album, “Unfinished Earth,” with a primitive force and melodic insistence that recall Stravinsky.
— The New Yorker
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When I was young I really wanted to use something to communicate the deeper aspects of life and living and somehow to cut through to people directly in order to achieve a more genuine and immediate communication with people. I tried art, religion, graphic art and finally music—music with its immediate viscerality and emotionalism seemed to really resonate with me.

I learned the flute and progressed quickly and went to the prestigious Australian National University’s Canberra School of Music where I also studied composition. After graduating and years of free-lancing as a professional flutist I transitioned to living off of commissions as a composer in Melbourne, Australia. I later went to the MacDowell Colony and was recruited by Queens College to undertake a Masters degree studying with renown Scottish-American composer Thea Musgrave. After graduating from Queens I went to Yale where I worked with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jacob Druckman.

Upon graduating Yale I went directly into my first job as a Professor and Head of Composition, Theory and Electronic Music at the University of Alabama. I also published my first work on CD while there on the CRI label. My work during this time was thorny and kind of academic. I needed to leave this environment and so took a position at the University of Tasmania as the Director and Head of School of the Conservatorium of Music. Here I was freer to think and express myself as I wished. My music started to be known internationally with concerts at the Kennedy Center (Washington), The Dvorak Museum Concert Hall (Prague), Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland), Lysenko Hall (Kiev, UKRAINE), Florianka Recital Hall (Krakow, Poland) and others. 

After some years in Tasmania I took the position as Dean of the famed University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music where I led the institution until stepping into my current position as the Norman Dinerstein Professor of Composition Scholar. Since coming to Cincinnati, I have been fortunate to work with artists such as James Tocco, Awadagin Pratt, Gareth Davies, The Verdehr Trio, The Pridonoff Duo, Mikel Toms and the Brno Philharmonic among many others. My music has travelled to Steinway Hall, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music and Carnegie Hall (New York) various festivals in Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Austria, the US and Australia.

Nature and natural forms inspire my music. Using the natural world as externalized metaphors of richly human internal, emotional worlds, I like to draw on these two types of environment—internal and external—to create music of rich power, formal clarity, communicative force, expressiveness, meaning and drama.

I would love to hear from you with your reactions to my music or any plans you have that might present an opportunity to include my music in something you are producing. I have worked extensively with orchestral music, chamber music with and without electronics, theatre, ballet and opera.

I currently live and work in Cincinnati Ohio with my wife Josephine and two children Katarina and Joshua as well as our small dog Honey. I am a political junky interested in cooking, wine, natural and organic food, and a vegan and committed to animal rights who enjoys travel, art, architecture and music.


Next Show

ISCM World Music Days, Tallinn, ESTONIA

TOUCH—for piano and electronics
Talvi Hunt (piano), Tammo Sumera (electronics)
Tallinn Philharmonic Society House of Blackheads, White Hall 
SUNDAY, MAY 5, 1:00pm







Gareth Davies on Knehans’ TEMPEST—Flute Concerto