A long time ago, when I was still a boy, back in provincial Westphalia, I came across the title (not the music, and not any lyrics) of “Molly on the Shore”. Who was this Molly? I kept asking myself (was she Irish? or Scottish?) and who was Mr Grainger, the composer? I eventually found out, ages later, and in London, as my friend Olly’s (Oliver Knussen’s) fiftieth birthday came nearer and nearer. I thought I’d write him a piano piece with the same title (except for the initial M). I think of him most affectionately, standing on the Suffolk shore, near his lovely house, looking out across the ocean, looking and calling out for a world of wonderful images made of sounds and rhythms and tunes still to come, in order to fill out the next fifty years of his life: Oliver Knussen, the brilliant mind, the gentle man and the great artist.
© Hans Werner Henze
Marino, May 2002