About Gerd Kühr

Gerd Kühr talks about composing: "For me composing is less creating than it is finding. Discovering the existing, the prescribed, the "pre-composed". The autonomy of composing appears refracted to me through the fabric of history, stories, people, and the world that lies beyond music. I seek precision, approximation in/to emotion, the emotion which lies in precision."

Gerd Kühr, born in 1952 in Austria, completed a composition degree at the Mozarteum Salzburg under Josef Friedrich Doppelbauer and Hans Werner Henze in Cologne as well as a conductor's degree under Gerhard Wimberger (Mozarteum) and Sergiu Celibidache. From 1992 until 1994, Kühr held a visiting professorship for composition at the Mozarteum, and after 1994 in Graz. Since 1995, he has held a full university professorship for composition and music theory at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz.

His international breakthrough was the debut performance of the opera "Stallerhof" (libretto by Franz Xaver Kroetz) 1988 at the 1st Münchener Biennale (with further performances in Germany, Austria and Switzerland). In 1992, Wien Modern presented numerous works from Gerd Kühr as part of the program "Vertreter der jungen Generation" (Representatives of the Young Generation).

The opera "Tod und Teufel" ("Death and Devil"; libretto by Peter Turrini) followed in the year 1999 at the Opera House Graz. Further highlights of his musical creation were the two portrait concerts in the series "Next Generation" at the Salzburger Festspiele 2000, his influence as "composer in residence" at the Vienna Concert Society 2001/2002 (Chamber Orchestra of the Vienna Symphony), in 2003 a personale at the festival "styriarte", and in 2005 the Gerd Kühr Project (opening concert "musikprotokoll"/steirischer herbst 2005).

Also with the positioning of debut performances, Kühr makes a lasting impression and can always count on the close attention of a very interested audience. So it was in the Mozart Year 2006 that "Movimenti" for violin and Orchestra was heard for the first time at the Wiener Musikverein. During the Salzburger Festspiele 2006, "Stop the Piano" was received with enthusiasm by both the audience and the critics.

In Munich in 2008, Gerd Kühr's musical rendition of a Magnificat (Introductio – Meditatio – Magnificat – Epilogus) had a successful debut performance. In March 2009, "reihenweise", a composition commissioned by the ensemble "die reihe" (for the celebration concert "50th Anniversary of the Ensemble die reihe") premiered in the Wiener Konzerthaus.

Gerd Kühr´s new work for eight tuba players, "Laute(r) Röhren", a piece commissioned by kunsthaus muerz, had its premiere performance in Mürzzuschlag, in October 2010. In November 2011, Gerd Kühr´s "Música Pura" (commissioned by the Essl Collection for WIEN MODERN 2011) had its world premiere at Schömer Haus. Gerd Kühr conducted the Ensemble "die reihe". The program also included Friedrich Cerha´s "Quellen" (Sources) as well as music from the English Renaissance in contemporary arrangements.

In 2012 Gerd Kühr was awarded the Austrian Art Prize (for Music). In April 2014 Gerd Kühr was honored with the Andrzej-Dobrowolski-Prize for Composition (granted by the Province of Styria). 

In January 2013 Gerd Kühr´s work "JETZT WOHIN? SPURENSUCHE für Sprecher, Chor und Orchester auf Texte von Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine und Georg Christoph Lichtenberg" was performed (Musikverein Vienna). This work leads to Gerd Kühr´s most recently performed work for orchestra (world premiere: June 2013/Munich "Herz Jesu Kirche"- Messe für Soli, Chor und Orchester/commissioned work by Bayerischen Rundfunk/Münchner Rundfunkorchester).

In November 2014, pianist Markus Schirmer opened the soloist cycle of the Musikverein Graz with works by Franz Schubert and Gerd Kühr "Zwei Intermezzi zu Schuberts Drei Klavierstücke" D 946 (2013/2014)". In December 2014 the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra world premiered Gerd Kühr's "Con Sordino for String Orchestra".

On 29 January 2018, a portrait concert "Gerd Kühr" was performed at MUMUTH (University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, Austria). Students from the field of study "Performance" interpreted selected works by Gerd Kühr (Stop and Go, Come una Pastorale), Christoph Becher was in dialogue with the composer on stage.

With the support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, the Leipzig Opera has commissioned the composer Gerd Kühr and the librettist Hans-Ulrich Treichel to compose an opera - world premiere spring 2021.

Gerd Kühr created numerous commissioned works (for orchestra, ensemble, chamber music, choir) that were performed among others at the Wien Modern, Almeida Festival, Huddersfield Festival, steirischen herbst, musica viva, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, and the Bregenzer Festspiele. Kühr has worked artistically with numerous ensembles and soloists, among others with Ensemble Modern, ensemble xx.jahrhundert, Klangforum Wien, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Bavarian Radio Choir, with Ulf Schirmer, Emilio Pomárico, Bertrand de Billy, Stefan Asbury, HK Gruber, Dennis Russell Davis, Friedrich Cerha, Lothar Zagrosek, Oliver Knussen, Arturo Tamayo, as well as Reto Bieri, Paul Meyer, Heinrich Schiff, Stefan Vladar, Florian Kitt, Markus Hinterhäuser and Patricia Kopatchinskaja.

Gerd Kühr, the conductor, can also be experienced in the coming season. Gerd Kühr has directed numerous concerts in Austria, Italy, Germany, Russia, and Guatemala.

Gerd Kühr talks about his work: "I am still naive enough to believe that music has a function in society. A function that it of course only has for a small percentage, it is the function to show what is possible and to point out the unanswered. For me, music is also a message against the poverty of fantasy. A person who is shaped by it, and who consciously pays attention to it, will make different decisions in their daily life, of this I am convinced!"

March 2019

For questions please contact:
Dunja Ganser
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