Friedrich Cerha

Despite my age, I am always searching for new things. The path on which I search leads back to me. Thus, it is also about finding new sides of myself. The intense experience of music is a way into one's own being - also for the listener.

Composer Friedrich Cerha, born in Vienna in 1926, has long been considered one of the most important Austrian composers of our time. In 1958, he founded the Vienna-based ensemble die reihe. Cerha directed die reihe, an ensemble comprised of gifted soloists, for decades. In 1960 and 1961, Cerha composed a work that became central to his compositional output - a cycle entitled Spiegel. In 1979, he completed Berg's three-act opera Lulu, a work which garnered him international attention.

Friedrich Cerha has spent much of his career delving into various 20th century musical styles, such as twelve-tone technique, neoclassicism, and serial music. He has also maintained an interest in replicable emotional developments, which permeate both his orchestral and chamber works.

Music-theatre has also played an important role in Cerha's compositional output. For example, Cerha created a version of Spiegel that included movement groups, lights, and objects. Soon after this he wrote the music-theatre piece Netzwerk. In the late 1970s, Cerha became highly interested in Bertolt Brecht's Baal and produced a work of the same name that grappled with the relationship between the individual and society. This work was followed by Der Rattenfänger (1984-1986) and Der Riese vom Steinfeld (1997). His most important orchestral works include Langegger Nachtmusik III and Impulse.

Over the past several years he has produced multiple solo concertos, such as his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (2004), Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra (2003/2004) and Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (2009). Cerha's Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra premiered in autumn 2009 (Martin Grubinger, Mozarteumorchester Salzburg). This was followed by premieres of several other orchestral works such asInstants (WDR Symphonieorchester), Like a Tragicomedy (BBC Philharmonic Orchestra) and, during the Wiener Festwochen 2010, Kammermusik für Orchester (ORF Radio Symphonieorchester).

Both the Salzburg Biennial and the Wien Modern Festival had a main focus on Friedrich Cerha's music in their 2011 programs, the year of the composer's 85th birthday. Several premieres during this season were another evidence of Cerha's unbroken creativity.Following the premiere of Paraphrase über den Anfang der 9. Sinfonie Beethovens in October 2011, which was featured in the opening concert of a large Beethoven-cycle at the Gewandhaus Leipzig, the Neue Vocalsolisten premiered his work Zwei Szenen at the ECLAT Festival for New Music in Stuttgart.

The Tonkünstler Orchestra Niederösterreich is opening its 2012/2013 concert season with a new orchestral work by Cerha. Four out of Elf Skizzen (Eleven Sketches) are due to be premiered in three concerts. In June 2013, the Munich Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz, in cooperation with the Volksoper Vienna, will premiere Friedrich Cerha's newest Opera Der Präsident, which will also be performed in Austria.

In addition to his active compositional life, Friedrich Cerha taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna until 1988. His students included Georg Friedrich Haas and Karlheinz Essl. Friedrich Cerha is a recipient of the Grand Austrian State Prize, a member of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. The Biennale di Venezia awarded Cerha with the Golden Lion for his life's work in 2006. Friedrich Cerha was honoured with the 2012 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, known as the "Nobel Prize of Music", which he received in June 2012 at a musical ceremony in Munich.