Beat Furrer was born in Schaffhausen (Switzerland) in 1954 and received his first musical training on piano at the Music School there. After moving to Vienna in 1975, he studied conducting with Otmar Suitner and composition with Roman Haubenstock Ramati at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst. In 1985 he founded the Klangforum Wien, which he directed until 1992, and with which he is still associated as conductor. Commissioned by the Vienna State Opera, he composed his first opera “Die Blinden”. “Narcissus” was premiered in 1994 as part of the Festival “steirischer herbst” at the Graz Opera. In 1996 he was composer-in-residence at the Lucerne Festival. His music theatre work “BEGEHREN” was premiered in Graz in 2001, the opera “invocation” in Zürich in 2003 and the sound theatre piece “FAMA” in Donaueschingen in 2005. In autumn 1991 Furrer became a full professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Graz. He has been guest professor in composition at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt 2006–2009. In 2004 he was awarded the Music Prize of the City of Vienna, and in 2005 became a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. He was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2006 for his work “FAMA”, and in 2014 the Great Austrian State Prize. In 2010 his music theatre “WÜSTENBUCH” was premiered at the Theater Basel, in 2015 his opera “la bianca notte / the bright night” at the Hamburg State Opera.
Beat Furrer has been awarded the Ernst von Siemens Musikpreis 2018. In January 2019, his new opera “Violetter Schnee” (Violet Snow) will be premiered at Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden.