Beat Furrer

1954

Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, on December 6th

1960

Piano lessons at the Schaffhausen Conservatory

1975

Moved to Vienna, where he studied conducting with Otmar Suitner and composition with Roman Haubenstock-Ramati at the Vienna School of Music and the Performing Arts

1984

Prizewinner at the "Young Generation in Europe" composition competition (Cologne, Venice, Paris)

1985

Founded the Vienna Klangforum, serving as its artistic director until July 1992

1989

Opera Die Blinden premièred at the "Wien modern" festival
Prizewinner at the Young Composers Forum in Cologne

1992

Professor of composition at the Graz School of Music and the Performing Arts
Grant-in-aid from the Siemens Foundation

1993

Music Prize of the City of Duisburg

1994

Opera Narcissus premièred at the Graz Opera during the Styrian Autumn Festival

1996

Composer-in-residence at the Lucerne Festival

1999

Premiere of the sound theatre piece Stimme allein [Solo voice] at the Bonn Opera

2001

Concert premiere of the music theatre piece BEGEHREN [Desire] in Graz at the Styrian Autumn Festival

2003

First staged performance of the music theatre piece BEGEHREN in Graz
Premiere of the opera invocation at the Zürich Opera

2004

Music Prize of the city of Vienna 2003

2005

Premiere of the sound theatre piece FAMA in a specially-constructed acoustic room at the Donaueschingen Music Festival
Appointed member of Academy of the Arts, Berlin, section music

2006

Golden Lion for FAMA at the Venice Biennale

2006 - 2009

guest professor in composition at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst [College of Music and Performing Arts] in Frankfurt am Main

2010

Premiere of the music theatre piece Wüstenbuch at Theater Basel

Furrer lives in Vienna

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“The narrative, compressed into a single instant and captured in endless repetition, is projected into changing spaces. Filtering processes cause individual layers to recede into the background or come to the fore, thereby generating contrasting perspectives. Linear time gives way to spatial depth: processes are »verticalized«, and momentary snapshots are probed by movable filters in ever-new perspectives. These ideas were already elaborated in earlier works of mine, such as Nuun and still. In BEGEHREN (Yearning) I related them for the first time to a theatrical form: opera.
Orpheus’ Bücher (Orpheus’s Books) is an arrangement of the opening scene of BEGEHREN. It describes, in the words of Ovid and Virgil, Orpheus’s ascent to the world of light, his desire to turn around, and the vanishing of Eurydice, the object of his yearning: ‘steep, dark, enshrouded in thick fog, not far from the edge of the earth, poised on the threshold to light – he turned around’. Orpheus is situated between the realm of death and the ‘shimmer of heaven’. ‘He provides a commentary on the sequence of scenes commented upon by the chorus: a path of shadows – and the evanescent shimmer of heaven’. The initial sound of the word ‘Schatten’ (‘shadow’), a patch of white noise, gives rise to an orchestral sonority spinning on several levels: the ensemble of solo vocalists, electronically amplified and projected in continuous motion around the auditorium. All the while the orchestral tutti probes the two ‘ends’ of the sonority for possible lines of continuation in order to clarify the perspectives or to strengthen the layers within it. The course of a narrative [sonority] is probed in an act of joint recollection [camera]: quick, slow, hesitant, etc. Linear, discursive relations are no longer the sole constitutive factors of the form: instead, their separate elements occur in ever-new combinations around a center of gravity or between two antipodes [bright vs. dark] to create a narrative in embryo.”

     Beat Furrer, Orpheus’ Bücher (2001)