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Friedrich Cerha


Friedrich Cerha

1926
Born in Vienna on 17 February.
1933Violin instruction with Anton Pejhovsky.
1935
First attempts at composition.
1936
Attends the Realgymnasium in Vienna's 17th district.
1939
Instruction in counterpoint and harmony.
1943
Drafted as Luftwaffe support personnel and sent to Achau near Vienna.
1944
Entrance into the German military; training at an officers' academy in Denmark.
1945
Desertion during a transport to Germany; contact to the Danish and German resistance efforts; travel by foot to Tirol. Works there as cabin keeper and mountain guide. Return to Vienna in November.
1946
Student at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna: Violin (with Gottfried Feist and Vasa Prihoda), composition (with Alfred Uhl), music education; at the same time at the University of Vienna: German studies, musicology, and philosophy. In the following years, contact with young composers (including Paul Kont), painters and poets, who later joined together to form the Art-Club and became part of the Austrian section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). Analysis of works of the Viennese School with Josef Polnauer. Extensive work as a concert violinist.
1950
Awarded the degree of Dr. phil. Start of work as music educator at Vienna Mittelschulen. In the years 1960-65, work in developing and leading school orchestras. Further numerous concerts as violinist.
1956-58
Attends the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music. Also attends the courses of Rudolf Kolisch and Eduard
Steuermann as a violinist, two further experts on the musical ideals of the Schönberg school. First compositions
after studying the ideas of serialism (including Formation et solution, premiered in Darmstadt in 1958, Relazioni fragili,
premiered in Vienna in 1960).
1957
Rome stipend. Composition of Espressioni fondamentali for orchestra (premiered in Berlin in 1960).
1958
Founding of the ensemble „die reihe" with Kurt Schwertsik to create a permanent forum for new music in Vienna; pioneering efforts in the presentation of new works, but also of the music of classical modernism, especially of the Viennese school. Performance of works of the Viennese school on violin at the World's Fair in Brussels.
1959
First instruction post at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna. First concerts of "die reihe". Composition of Mouvements and Fasce.
1960Founding of the ensemble "Camerata Frescobaldiana" for Italian music of the 17th century, in the years following concerts using period instruments. Editions of early music. Composition of the Spiegel für großes Orchester und Tonband (1960/61) and draft of the related musical theatre concept (continues work on it until 1971).
1961 First international success as composer and conductor with Relazioni fragili at the ISCM festival in Vienna. Start of increased activity as a conductor (ensemble, orchestra, opera) at leading institutions in the promotion of contemporary music, and at leading festivals and opera houses.
1962Starts study of the third act of Alban Berg's opera Lulu (continues work on it until 1978). First extensive tour with "die reihe" (including Relazioni fragili) throughout Germany and to Paris.
1962-67Composition of Exercises (premiere in Vienna in 1968).
1963
Purchase of residence in Maria Langegg.
First Cerha Portrait at the Wiener Festwochen.
1967
Extensive visual artwork in Maria Langegg (drawings, watercolors since the 1950s); later construction of a stone chapel and increased work on stone sculpture.
1968-75
President of the Austrian section of the ISCM.
1969
Named associate professor at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna.
1970
Tour of the ensemble „die reihe" throughout Canada and the USA. Premiere of Langegger Nachtmusik I at the Berliner Festwochen.
1970/71Stipend from the DAAD in Berlin.
1971
Funding prize of the National Ministry of Education and Art.
1972
Premiere of the entire Spiegel cycle at the ISCM festival/steirische herbst festival - musikprotokoll in Graz.
1973
Premiere of Curriculum (commission of the Koussevitzky Foundation) in New York.
1974Commission by the National Ministry of Education and Art for composition of the opera Baal. Composed 1974-1980.
Prize of the City of Vienna.
1976Named full professor at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna, leads a class for „composition, notation and interpretation of contemporary music" until 1988. Premiere of his Concerto for Violin in Vienna.
1978
Establishment and direction of the concert series „Wege in unsere Zeit" at the Vienna Konzerthaus, to show important developments in the music of our century through ensemble and orchestral concerts (until 1983).
1979Premiere of the three-act version of Alban Berg's opera Lulu in Paris.
Performances of the entire Spiegel cycle at the Venice Biennale.
1981Premiere of the musical theatre piece Netzwerk at the Wiener Festwochen; premiere of the opera Baal based on Bertold Brecht at the Salzburg Festspiele and later performances at the Vienna State Opera.
1982Premiere of the Baal Gesänge with Theo Adam at the North German Radio in Hamburg; performances of Baal at the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin.
1983
Composition of the Requiem für Hollensteiner based on texts by Thomas Bernhard (premiere NDR Hamburg 1984). Premiere of the I. Keintate on Viennese Pieces by Ernst Kein in Vienna.
1984
Start of work on the opera Der Rattenfänger based on Carl Zuckmayer (commissioned by the steirische herbst festival).
1986
Great Austrian State Prize (donated by Cerha for performances of works by young composers); Golden Medal of Honour of the State of Steiermark, City of Vienna Medal of Honour in Gold. Exhibit at the Austrian National Library: the childhood of a composer in Vienna.
1987Premiere of Der Rattenfänger at the steirische herbst festival at the Graz Opera and the Vienna State Opera.
1988Honorary member of the Society of the Vienna Konzerthaus. After leaving the conservatory, increased activity as composer and conductor. Composition of the Monumentum for Karl Prantl (premiere at the Salzburger Festspiele 1989).
1989Featured composer at the festival "Wien modern". Composition and premiere of the Phantasiestück in C.s Manier for cello and orchestra, composition of the First String Quartet (commissioned by the Mozarteum Foundation Salzburg).
1990
Composition of the Second String Quartet (commission of the Concours international de quatuor à cordes d'Evian).
1991
Premiere of the First String Quartet at the Mozart Week in Salzburg. Premiere of the Second String Quartet in Evian. Composition of Langegger Nachtmusik III for orchestra, with premiere in Berlin.
1992
First prize at the ICONS competition in Torino for the First String Quartet. Composition of Impulse for orchestra
(1992/93), commissioned by the Vienna Philharmonic.
Member of the European Academy of Sciences.
1993
Composition of the Viola Concerto (premiere in Vienna in 1995) and of For K for ensemble. Start of work on interpretations of the Viennese School with the Klangforum Wien.
1994
Cerha Days in Linz. Composition of the Concertino for violin, accordion, and ensemble (premiere in Vienna in 1996). Composition of the Introitus, Kyrie, and Libera me of the Requiem of Reconciliation (commissioned by the Bachakademie Stuttgart). President of the Klangforum Wien.
1995
Premiere of the Requiem of Reconciliation in Stuttgart. Honorary member of the ISCM Austria. Composition of the Saxophone Quartet (premiere in Vienna in 1996). Composition of Eight Movements on Hölderlin Fragments for string sextet (commissioned by the Philharmonie Cologne, premiered in Cologne in 1996).
1996
Premiere of Impulse for orchestra (Vienna Philharmonic under André Prévin). Composition of Jahr lang ins Ungewisse hinab (Hölderlin) for ensemble (commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences). Numerous concerts on the occasion of his 70th birthday in Austria and beyond.
Composer-in-residence at the Mozarteum Salzburg.
1997
Premiere of Jahr lang ins Ungewisse hinab in Vienna. Composition of the Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (commissioned by the Berliner Festspiele).
Commissioned by the Vienna State Opera to compose the opera Der Riese vom Steinfeld (Libretto: Peter Turrini).
1998
Premiere of the Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra at the Berliner Festwochen.
1999
Composition of the cycle Im Namen der Liebe (Texts by Peter Turrini) for baritone and orchestra (commissioned by the Festival de Música de Canarias). Commission of the Konzerthaus Berlin for the composition of the orchestral piece Hymnus.
2001Premiere of Five Pieces for Clarinet, Violoncello and Piano for the 50th Birthday of Heinrich Schiff.
Composition of the Rhapsodie pour violon et piano, commissioned by the Jacques Thibaud competition, Paris.
Start of work on the Requiem for Soli, Choir, and Orchestra as commissioned by the Konzerthaus Vienna.
Publication of his book Schriften. Ein Netzwerk, published by Lafite www.musikzeit.at
2002
Premiere of the opera Der Riese vom Steinfeld at the Vienna State Opera.
2003/04
Composition of the Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra.
2004
Composition of the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra and the Quintet for Clarinet in A and String Quartet (Commission by the BNP Paribas).
Premiere of the Requiem for Soli, Choir, and Orchestra.
2004/05
Composition of the Momente for Orchestra (Commission of Musica Viva Munich).
2006Honoured with the first ever Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Music Biennale in Venice.