Cathy Nelson Artists and Projects
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Olga Neuwirth - Composer

Olga Neuwirth was born in Graz, Austria, in 1968. She studied at the Academy of Music in Vienna and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During her stay in the States she also attended an art college, where she studied painting and film. Her private teachers in composition included Adriana Holszky, Tristan Murail and Luigi Nono. She first burst onto the international scene in 1991, at the age of 22, when two of her mini-operas with texts by Elfriede Jelinek were performed at the Wiener Festwochen. 

In 1998 she was featured in two portrait concerts at the Salzburg Festival within the framework of the Next Generation series. The following year, her music theatre work Bahlamms Fest, with a libretto by Elfriede Jelinek, based on Leonora Carrington, premiered at the Wiener Festwochen and won the Ernst Krenek prize. A year later, Pierre Boulez commissioned Clinamen/Nodus for his 75th birthday tour with the London Symphony Orchestra. In 2002 Olga was appointed Composer in Residence at the Lucerne Festival.

With Nobel Prize winning novelist Elfriede Jelinek she has created two radio plays and three operas. Her opera Lost Highway, based on the film by David Lynch, premiered in 2003 and won a South Bank Show Award for the production presented by English National Opera at the Young Vic in 2008.

Since Olga Neuwirth was a teenager, she has also been interested in film and the visual arts. Aside from composing, she has also realised sound installations, art exhibitions and short films; one of her multi-media installations was presented at the documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007.

Aside from her operas, Olga Neuwirth’s most notable works include: the piano concerto locus….doublure…solus… and the trumpet concerto miramondo multiplo… premiered by Hakan Hardenberger and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Pierre Boulez. Many recordings of her music have been released on the Kairos label.

In 2008 she was awarded the Heidelberg Artist Prize. In 2010, as the first woman ever in the category of music, she received the Grand Austrian State Prize as well as the Louis Spohr Prize of the City of Braunschweig.

In 2012 Olga Neuwirth completed two new operas while living in NYC: The Outcast on Hermann Melville,  and American Lulu, a version of Alban Berg‘s Lulu which was premiered in Berlin and subsequently given a new production in Bregenz, Edinburgh and London in 2013 and then in Vienna in 2014. In early 2015 she completed film scores for two silent films, and a new orchestral work for her Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Masaot/Clock without Hands - the work was premiered in Koln and Vienna conducted by Daniel Harding, and its US premiere at Carnegie Hall conducted by Valery Gergiev 2016 as a co-commission with Carnegie Hall. It receives its West Coast premiere in Los Angeles in Autumn 2018 under Daniel Harding.

Salzburg Festival presented Eleanor Suite for Blues Singer and ensemble with Klangforum Wien under Sylvian Cambreling in Summer 2015 and in Autumn 2015 Le Encantadas was premiered - a major electronic/space/ensemble piece for the Ensemble Intercontemporain, performed at Donaueschingen and Festival d’Automne Paris with further performances at the Holland Festival and Lucerne Festivals in 2016, and Vienna’s Wien Modern in 2017.  

Olga Neuwirth was the 2016 Lucerne Festival’s Composer in Residence with multiple performances and the premiere of her percussion concerto Trurliade-Zone Zero. In Spring 2017 she realised a sound installation for Centre Pompidou’s ‘Imprimer Le Monde’ exhibition. February 2018 saw the premiere in Sweden of Aello- ballet mécanomorphe for solo flutist Claire Chase and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, subsequently performed at the BBC Proms in London.

She is currently writing her opera Orlando, commissioned by Vienna State Opera for Autumn 2019, and in 2020 will present a new work commissioned by New York Philharmonic.

September 2019