Michael Pelzel is a composer and organist. He was born in Rapperswil (Switzerland) in 1978. After passing his school-leaving exam “Matura” at the Canton school of Wattwil, from 1998 to 2009 he went on to study at the Lucerne, Basel, Stuttgart, Berlin and Karlsruhe academies of music. Amongst other things, he studied piano under Ivan Klánsky, organ under Jakob Wittwer, Martin Sander, Ludger Lohmann and Guy Bovet and composition under Dieter Ammann, Detlev Müller-Siemens, Georg-Friedrich Haas, Hanspeter Kyburz and Wolfgang Rihm as well as music theory under Roland Moser and Balz Trümpy.
He attended various composition master classes given by Tristan Murail, Beat Furrer, Michaël Jarrell, Klaus Huber, Brian Ferneyhough, György Kurtàg and Helmut Lachenmann. From 2004 to 2010 he attended the Darmstadt Summer Courses, as well as masterclasses at the Acanthes Festival in Metz and Royaumont Festival in Paris and was a member of Akademie Musiktheater heute.
As an organist Pelzel was hosted at various churches and cathedrals, for instance in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sydney and Cape Town. His compositions are performed by bodies of musicians like ensemble recherche klangforum wien, quatuor diotima, Arditti Quartet, ensemble intercontemporain or the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavaria Broadcasting Corporation. His works are played at festivals like the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, Donaueschingen Music Festival, Wien Modern, Klangspuren (Schwaz, Tyrol), Tremplin (Paris), Lucerne Festival and Art on Main (Johannesburg). He also teaches music theory at music academies and holds composition workshops at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg (South Africa).
He has received numerous prizes and awards. For instance, in 2005 he was prizewinner in the musica viva composition competition (Munich), in 2005 he was prizewinner in the Stiftung Christoph Delz composition competition (Basel), in 2007 prizewinner in the Jurgenson Competition (Moscow), in 2009 prizewinner in the Music Today composition competition (Seoul) and in 2011 he received the Busoni Composition Prize. In the same year he was selected to feature on a portrait CD as part of the Edition of the German Music Council in collaboration with the German label WERGO. In 2012, 2013 and 2016 he received a residency grant for the Visby International Centre for Composers (VICC), in 2014 a residency grant as part of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program; in 2016 he was presented the Composition Prize of the Regional Capital of Stuttgart and a grant from the Swiss art foundation pro helvetia – for a three-month artistic residency in Chennai (India). There he studied Carnatic music with its special rhythmic structures and perfected his playing of the ghatam, a Southern Indian clay pot instrument.
Michael Pelzel’s compositions and composition commissions have been supported on multiple occasions by the foundations STEO Stiftung, Küsnacht, Stiftung NICATI DE LUZE, Lausanne and the Swiss cultural foundation pro helvetia.