Peter Ruzicka Celebrates His 65th Birthday

Not only as a composer, but also as a conductor, music manager, artistic director and university music professor, Peter Ruzicka has frequently made enquiries determining aesthetic positions. Writing music about music, he once said, is the only possible consequence of an historical development of art that admits that there is no more really new musical material, that a forward movement on the part of the composer into new, unknown territory is no longer possible.

On 3 July 2013, Peter Ruzicka will celebrate his 65th birthday. His biography as composer, artistic director, manager and author is truly unique in its variety. Born on 3 July 1948 in Düsseldorf, he received instrumental and theoretic training at the Hamburg Conservatory from 1963 to 1968, studying piano, oboe and the theory of composition there. After A-levels, he completed studies in law and musicology in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin until 1976 (dissertation in Berlin, 1977). During this time, he already received a furtherance prize of the City of Stuttgart in 1969 for his cantata “Esta Noche” and was a prize winner in 1970 at the Béla Bartók International Competition in Budapest for his First String Quartet “... fragment ...”. He also won the award of the International Gaudeamus Competition and the Bach Prize stipend of the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

Since 1990 Peter Ruzicka has been a professor at the Academy of Music and Theatre in Hamburg. The composer is a member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts and the Free Academy of the Arts in Hamburg. During the 1980s he was artistic director of the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin, then artistic director of the Hamburg State Opera and the Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra from 1988 to 1997. In 1996, as successor to Hans Werner Henze, he became artistic director of the Munich Biennale as well as artistic adviser to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. From 2001 until 2006 Ruzicka was artistic director of the Salzburg Festival. Ruzicka’s compositions are marked by lyrical introspection, emotionality and a complex philosophical foundation. it was only relatively late, at the turn of the millennium, that Peter Ruzicka also discovered opera as a medium for his work. He has meanwhile written two operas – “CELAN” about the great poet Paul Celan, who took his own life in Paris in 1970 and whom Ruzicka knew personally, and “HÖLDERLIN”. In both instances, Peter Ruzicka placed the personalities of poets at the centre of the operatic plots.

After Ruzicka hands over his artistic directorship of the Munich Biennale in 2014, he will be able to dedicate himself still more intensively to his work as a composer. “It is like a window that goes up, opening up onto unlimited freedom,” Ruzicka says in anticipation.

Also as a writer on music, Peter Ruzicka has constantly made statements concerning his own and other works, and about events in the world of music. Amongst the publications including his texts are two volumes of essays and reflections entitled “Erfundene und gefundene Musik” and “Ins Offene”. The most recently published book is two years old and contains texts about Peter Ruzicka’s second opera “Hölderlin” which was premiered at the Semperoper in Dresden. A work monography of the composer by Habakuk Traber will be published by Wolke Verlag just in time for his birthday. Constant self-reflection accompanies Ruzicka’s works in many respects. “It is necessary”, he says, “to constantly examine one’s own location and, indeed, to write about it. Aesthetic experiences are lived in a forward direction and understood retrospectively.”

On the composer’s birthday, 3 July 2013, NDR Kultur will broadcast a portrait of Peter Ruzicka in its series “neue musik” from 8:59 until 10 PM.

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