Life and Work
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 talented 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). In September 2010, Hans Holliger and members of Ensemble Modern premiered Cerha's quintet for oboe and string quartet. In March 2011, the Salzburg Biennale made his music a main focus of the festival which coincided with Friedrich Cerha's 85th birthday.
The inexaustability of Cerha's creative energy is evidenced by his numerous premieres this season. Following the October 2011 premiere of Paraphrase über den Anfang der 9. Sinfonie Beethovens, which was featured on the opening concert of a large Beethoven-cycle at the Gewandhaus Leipzig, Cerha was honoured as a spotlight composer of the Wien Modern festival. In February 2012, the Neue Vocalsolisten will premiere his work Zwei Szenen at the ECLAT Festival for New Music in Stuttgart.
In addition to his active compositional life, Friedrich Cerha taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna until 1988. His students have 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's works are published by Universal Edition: www.universaledition.com
and by Musikverlag Doblinger: www.doblinger-musikverlag.at
Friedrich Cerha is represented by Kasten Witt Musik Management: www.friedrich-cerha.com