Sue Knussen, a producer and director of award-winning music programs for British television and former education director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, died in a London hospital March 23 after contracting a fungal blood infection. She was 53.
Born Sue Freedman in Portsmouth, N.H., Knussen got a degree in music education and French horn at Boston U.. In 1971, she married British composer and conductor Oliver Knussen and moved with him to London, where she wrote concert program notes and album liner notes, interviewed composers and performers for radio broadcasts, and helped produce music festivals and her husband’s operas.
She joined BBC Television as a producer and director in 1988. She directed “The Art of Conducting,” for the Beeb in 1994; it proved popular enough to be picked up and broadcast in the United States on PBS and was released earlier this year on DVD.
She also produced the music series “Leaving Home,” seven hourlong TV programs for Channel 4 that earned her a BAFTA award as producer of best arts series of 1996.
Knussen came to the Los Angeles Philharmonic that same year, and set up education activities aimed at the general public and music community, not just schoolchildren. She worked with the Los Angeles Unified School District and public school teachers to create the Philharmonic’s Music for Educators program, which brought teachers together with such eminent musicians as Esa-Pekka Salonen and composer John Adams.
She left the Philharmonic in 2000 and returned to London last year to resume her broadcasting career.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by a daughter, Sonya; her mother, and a brother.