olga neuwirth
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Olga Neuwirth was born in Graz, Austria and studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and San Francisco Conservatory of Music, also studying painting and film at San Francisco Art College.

Her composition teachers included Adriana Hölszky, Tristan Murail and Luigi Nono. She sprang to international prominence in 1991, at the age of 22, when two of her mini operas with texts by Nobel prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek were performed at the Vienna Festwochen. Since then her works have been presented worldwide.

Highlights include two portrait concerts at the Salzburg Festival (1998); her multi-media opera Baa-Lambs Feast (1993/1998) after Leonora Carrington; Clinamen/Nodus for Pierre Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra (2000); composer-in-residence at the Lucerne Festival in 2002 and in 2016; world première of her music-theatre work Lost Highway (2003), after David Lynch which won a South Bank Show Award (ENO at the Young Vic, 2008); and two new operas while living in New York (2010/11) – The Outcast-Homage to Herman Melville and American Lulu, based on Alban Berg’s ‘Lulu’, composer-in-residence at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and the Berliner Musikfest in 2019 and an opera for the Vienna Statesopera with costumes by Comme des Garçons.

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.

For over 30 years Olga Neuwirth’s works have explored a wide range of forms and genres: operas, radio-plays, sound-installations, art-works, photography and film-music. Aside from composing, she therefore realizes sound installations, art exhibitions and short films and has written several articles and a book; one of her multi-media installations was presented at the documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007 and in march 2017 her 3D sound-installation in collaboration with IRCAM was inaugurated at Centre Pompidou in Paris for it’s 40th anniversary.


In many works she fuses live-musicians, electronics and video into audio-visual experiences and calls her main aesthetics an “Art-in-between”. Among numerous prizes, she was the first-ever woman to receive the Grand Austrian State Prize in the category of music (2010).

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 a film score for a silent film and a feature film by Franz/Fiala, which was premiered at the Venice Film Festival and the orchestral work Masaot/Clocks without hands for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. It was premiered in Koeln and had it’s US premiere in February 2016 at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Valerij Gergjev. 

At the Salzburg Festival her Eleanor Suite for Bluessinger, drum-kit-player and ensemble was premiered in August 2015. Her 80 minutes electronic/space/ensemble piece Le Encantadas based on the acoustics of a venetian church received its premiere at Donaueschingen and at the Festival d’Automne à Paris with further performances in 2016 and 2017. She received the prestigious Roche Commission for the Lucerne Festival in 2016 for her percussion concerto Trurliade–Zone Zero and was composer-in-residence at the festival for the second time. 

In 2017 she has collaborated with Pritzker prize winning architect Peter Zumthor and with NY based Asymptote Architects. 
Beside several concerts for her 50th anniversary in 2018, Lost Highway and The Outcast could be seen in new productions. Lost Highway under the direction of Yuval Sharon and The Outcast under Netia Jones. And the BBC Proms programmed Aello-ballet mécanomorphe in August 2018 for Claire Chase and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

Her opera Orlando after Virginia Woolf was premiered at the Vienna State Opera in December 2019 with huge international success. She was the first-ever woman to be commissioned by the Vienna State Opera in the 150 history of the house. Orlando will be released on DVD in winter 2021 on the label Unitel.

Keyframes for a Hippogriff - in memoriam Hester Diamond was commissioned by the New York Philharmonics under the baton of John Adams for their Project 19 – an initiative to commission 19 new works by 19 women composers - the largest women-only commissioning initiative in history and is co-comissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Proms.

During the Corona Pandemic she has created a cycle of diverse pieces called CoroAtion Cycle and is now working on a new opera based on an old Manga story; the libretto was already written in 2019 together with american novelist Barry Gifford.
In 2020 she was awarded the Robert Schumann-Preis für Dichtung und Musik
and in 2021 she was awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize together with Stevie Wonder.
Olga Neuwirth was appointed as a composition professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria from Autumn 2021 on.

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