A visionary view

Beat Furrer’s 70th Birthday – Concerts in Summer and Autumn 2024

Hardly any other contemporary composer has developed such an unmistakable personal style as Beat Furrer. In his 70th year is he reaping the fruits of his artistic consistency.

On 6 December 2024 Beat Furrer, born in Switzerland and now living in Austria, celebrates his 70th birthday. His distinctive works will be seen and heard in many places – with the revival of his opera “Violetter Schnee” at the Staatsoper Berlin, in many concerts given by the Klangforum Wien which he founded, with performances of his music theatre work “Begehren” (2001), including in Vienna, at the Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals, and in a composer portrait “Zeitinsel” at the Konzerthaus Dortmund.

For Beat Furrer, composing is an “instrument of experiencing the world, of insight into the world, of the world around me: to thematise perception, sound, and the fascination in sound itself again and again”.
As the creator of an unmistakable musical language, Furrer heightens the visionary eye and composes works of timeless validity. But his output is always a step into the unknown, like a constant searching. As a composer, conductor, thinker and teacher, he is one of the most influential artists of our time. In 1975 he founded the Klangforum Wien and developed this ensemble as its long-standing artistic director and conductor. Furrer was full professor of composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz From 1991 to 2023. At the end of the 1990s, together with Ernst Kovacic, he founded “impuls” as an international ensemble and composer academy for contemporary music in Graz. In 2004 he received the Music Prize of the City of Vienna, and since 2005 he has been a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. 2006 saw him awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for his sound theatre piece “FAMA”. In 2014 he received the Great Austrian State Prize, and in 2018 was awarded the Music Prize of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation for his life’s work. His best-known music theatre works include “Begehren” and “FAMA”, “Wüstenbuch” (2010) and the two operas “la bianca notte/die helle nacht” (2015) and “Violetter Schnee” (2019).

A new orchestral work for Lucerne

In his 70th year, he has received another great honour in the form of the Roche Commission from the Lucerne Festival. At the award ceremony on 31 August 2024, Furrer’s new orchestral work will be premiered, conducted by the composer. The new composition takes a specific tonal idea as its starting point. “The refraction of light or a shimmer of air were the associations with the first sound of this orchestral work – out of this diffuse, oscillating surface, forms gradually condense – out of the tangle of various layers of whispering unarticulated noise, similar to different languages, suddenly contrasting specifics are juxtaposed and further developed into a dialogue.” A continuous development flows into a great intensification: “The idea of developing states of matter from sounds in constant alteration – out of the diffuse, contrastless into concrete shapes – was similarly the starting point for the second part of the work: very slow continuous colour alterations of a peaceful, deep river, which gradually speeds up and transforms into foam in a raging whirlpool and leaves nothing behind apart from energy-laden emptiness.” A quotation from Thomas Stangl encapsulates the process in a concise image: “The empty centre, the bliss. At the centre of the whirlpool is a place of stillness”.
(Marie Luise Maintz  / photo: EvS Manu Theobald)

Beat Furrer – 2024 dates

29.7.2024 Salzburg (Salzburg Festival, Kollegienkirche) / 1.9.2024 Lucerne (Lucerne Festival) / 6.10.2024 Dortmund / 19.11.2024 Vienna (Wien modern): Begehren (concert performance). Cantando Admont, Cordula Bürgi (rehearsals), Klangforum Wien, conductor: Beat Furrer, Sarah Aristidou (soprano), Christoph Brunner (narrator)

WORLD PREMIERE 31.8.2024 Lucerne (Lucerne Festival): Lichtung for orchestra (Roche Commission). Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO), conductor: Beat Furrer

5.9.2024 Schwaz (Austria): Lichtung for orchestra
Tiroler Symphonieorchester, conductor: Zoi Tsokanou

Zeitinsel Beat Furrer (composer portrait) in the Konzerthaus Dortmund
2.10.2024 Salon with Beat Furrer / 3.10.2024 Enigma Cycle, Chorwerk Ruhr (choir), Zoltán Pad (conductor) / 4.10.2024 Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. Noa Wildschut (violin), WDR Symphony Orchestra, conductorI Ivan Volkov / 5.10.2024 A sei voci, In mia vita da vuolp, Spazio immergente, Akusmata. Cantando Admont, Klangforum Wien, conductor: Cordula Bürgi, Johanna Zimmer (soprano) / 6.10.2024 Begehren (concert performance),Cantando Admont, Cordula Bürgi (rehearsals), Klangforum Wien, conductor: Beat Furrer, Sarah Aristidou (soprano), Christoph Brunner (narrator)

6.10.2024 Venice (Biennale Musica): Conzert for Violin and Orchester, Noa Wildschut (violin), WDR Sinfonieorchester, conductor: Ivan Volkov