Oliver Schneller (b. 1966 in Cologne) grew up in Africa, Europe and Asia and studied in Germany and the USA. After completing a MA in political science and musicology at the University of Bonn he worked for the Goethe-Institut in Kathmandu, Nepal (1990–1991) on a project to support and sustain local forms of traditional musical practice. In 1994 he moved to the USA, first studying composition at the New England Conservatory in Boston, then at Columbia University New York as a student of Tristan Murail, where he received his doctoral degree in composition (2002) with a thesis on music and space. At the City University of New York he developed and expanded the CUNY Computer Music Studio. From 2000–2001 he lived in Paris as a participant of the cursus annuel de composition et d'informatique at IRCAM/Centre Pompidou. As an assistant to Tristan Murail he taught composition and computer music at Columbia, and organized the "Lachenmann in New York" Festival in 2001. Throughout his studies, masterclasses with Salvatore Sciarrino, Jonathan Harvey, Brian Ferneyhough, George Benjamin and Vinko Globokar provided important orientations.
Oliver Schneller's music has been performed at international festivals including Festival Agora Paris, Musica Strasbourg, Maerzmusik Berlin, Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik, Ultraschall, Tremplins Paris, Les Musiques Marseille, musique action Nancy, Wintermusic Berlin, Karnatic Lab Amsterdam, Alternativa Moscow, the International Computer Music Conferences (ICMC) in Singapore and Göteborg, Musicaaoustica Beijing, Indaba South Africa, Aspen, Tanglewood Music Festival, "Frankfurt 2000" and the "Millenium Stage Series" at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
His works have been performed by Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, MusikFabrik, Ictus, Speculum Musicae, Court Circuit, Ensemble Mosaik, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, Ensemble Courage, Antares, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, and St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble. From 2002 to 2004 he was a compositeur en recherche at IRCAM working on "Jardin des fleuves" a work for ensemble and live-electronic spatial processing. In 2006–2007 Oliver Schneller was awarded a fellowship at the German Academy Villa Massimo in Rome.
As a saxophonist, Schneller performed with ensembles such as the George Russell Big Band, the Gustav Mahler Youth Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, and with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra as a soloist in Tan Dun's Red Forcast. He's also worked with various jazz and improvisation ensembles in Cologne, Amsterdam, Boston and New York.
In Berlin Oliver Schneller has taught seminars on "Acoustics and Psychoacoustics for Composers" at the University of the Arts (UdK) and continued his interest in intercultural music projects. In 2004 he was the artistic director of the "Tracing Migrations" Festival, featuring the works of contemporary composers from Arab countries. In 2005 he was the curator of a project on Eastern and Western concepts of musical beauty at Berlin's House of World Cultures involving composers Toshio Hosokawa and Helmut Lachenmann, as well as a guest lecturer at the GLOBAL INTERPLAY project of Musik der Jahrhunderte Stuttgart.
Current compositional projects include a work for orchestra and electronics commissioned by the SWR, a work for piano and live-generated video, and a new piece for the Ensemble Cairn to be premiered at Ars musica Bruxelles. Since October 2009 Oliver Schneller holds a professorship in composition at Stuttgart Conservatory of Music.