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Herbert Willi

Herbert Willi

Country of origin: Austria
Birthday: January 7, 1956

Upcoming Performances

Conductor: Nayden Todorov
Orchestra: Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
May 16, 2024 | Sofia (Bulgaria) , Bulgaria Concert Hall — National Premiere
Kairos im Kronos 1756 / 1956
Schallwende – Festival für Neue Musik
September 13, 2024 | Feldkirch (Austria)

About Herbert Willi

When I turn my thoughts inwards – I always hear music. All the influences of the day leave behind their traces. My aim is however to liberate myself from these traces in the sound of silence where I linger until new structures can be recognised, visualised and heard. (Herbert Willi)

Herbert Willi was born in Vorarlberg on 7 January 1956. He studied music education and theology at the University of Innsbruck parallel to studies in bassoon and piano at the Innsbruck Conservatory. In 1983, he entered the composition class of Helmut Eder at the Hochschule Mozarteum in Salzburg before continuing his studies with Boguslaw Schaeffer. In 1988, Willi became acquainted with Olivier Messiaen. Herbert Willi lives in St. Anton im Montafon.

Willi views the composition process as being the transcription of inner perceptions originating from images of nature, visions and structural experiences to musical form. The composer functions as a pathfinder who senses sounds originating out of silence and utilises his technical skills to capture these sounds in musical form, making them tangible for the listener. Herbert Willi has composed several works for chamber music but chiefly focuses on orchestral compositions. In 1991, the Cleveland Orchestra issued a commission in cooperation with the Salzburg Festival for his Konzert für Orchester which was premiered in Cleveland under the musical direction of Christoph von Dohnányi. As part of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic, Willi produced the composition Begegnung für Orchester (1997/98). In 2007, Willi completed the concerto cycle “Montafon” consisting of the works Eirene (Concerto for trumpet and orchestra, 2001), ...geraume Zeit... (Concerto for flute, oboe and orchestra, 2002/03), ego eimi (Concerto for clarinet and orchestra, 2006) and Äon (Concerto for horn and orchestra, 2007). His violin concerto Sacrosanto (2012) was premiered by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the Vienna Musikverein with Nikolaj Znaider as a soloist. In 2017, Willi composed the 40-minute orchestral piece DSONG about the Korean symbol for togetherness and peace. Published in different versions, Dsong was at last premiered at the Bregenz Festival in 2022.

In commemoration of the anniversary "1000 years of Austria", Willi composed the opera Schlafes Bruder in response to a commission by the Opera House Zurich in 1994/95. The libretto relating the tragic story of the musical savant Elias played out against the background of the social coldness of an inhospitable mountain village was compiled in direct collaboration with Robert Schneider, the author of the original novel of the same name. A revised version of this opera was produced in 2008 and premiered at the Stadttheater Klagenfurt.

Performances of his works took place in New York (Carnegie Hall), Tokyo (Suntory Hall, Sumida Triphony Hall), London (Royal Albert Hall), Wien (Musikverein) and at the Salzburger Festspiele (Großes Festspielhaus, Felsenreitschule). Among the interpreters of his music are the Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pttsburgh Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic Orchetra and conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Christoph von Dohnányi, Manfred Honeck und Gustavo Dudamel.

Willi was the recipient of the Austrian State Scholarship for Composers in 1985, 1986 and 1989 and in 1987 a prize winner of the String Quartet Competition held by the Vienna Konzerthausgesellschaft (performance of Streichquartett 1986 by the Arditti Quartet). In 1987/88, Willi received a scholarship to study in Rome, in 1990 a Rolf-Liebermann scholarship for opera compositions and the Ernst von Siemens Foundation Encouragement Award in 1991. He spent several phases as composer-in-residence (for example in1992: Salzburg Festival and 1996-98: Camerata Academia, Salzburg). He was awarded the Austrian Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst in 1997 and the Große Verdienstzeichen des Landes Vorarlberg in 1998. During the season 2002/2003, he was composer-in-residence at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde of the Vienna Musikverein, the Vienna Concert Verein and in 2007 at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo/ Japan and in 2008 at the Japanese Kusatsu International Summer Music Academy & Festival.

Memorable CD productions with Herbert Willi's works include an extensive retrospektive of his orchestral pieces on WERGO (WER-6673) and a chamber music album on Japanese label Camerata (CM-2125).

Homepage: www.herbertwillisociety.org




Born on 7 January in Vorarlberg/Austria
Studied school music and theology at the University of Innsbruck, M.A. in philosophy. At the same time instrumental studies (bassoon and piano) at the conservatory of the city of Innsbruck.
since 1983
Composition studies with Helmut Eder at the Salzburg "Mozarteum", diploma in composition and M.A. Then further studies with Boguslav Schaeffer.
Austrian State Scholarship for Composer
Award for Young Composer for Music of the Republic of Austria (for the orchestral composition "Aura I ")
Prizewinner at the string quartet competition of the Wiener Konzerthausgesellschaft
World premiere of the "Stringquartet 1986" by the Arditti Quartet (Member of the Jury)
Rome Scholarship
Encounters with Olivier Messiaen
Austrian State Scholarship for Opera Composers
World premiere of "Der Froschmäusekrieg" in Viena
Rolf-Liebermann-Scholarship for Opera Composers (jury: state operas of Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Munich)
Award for Young Composers by the Ernst-von-Siemens Foundation
Composer-in-Residence at the Salzburg Festival
World premiere of the "Concerto for orchestra" in Cleveland
World premiere of "Räume for orchestra" in Munich
World premiere of the "Flute concerto" in Munich
"Concerto for orchestra" was awarded in Paris at the "International Rostrum of Composers 1993" by the UNESCO as "Recommended Work"
World premiere of the opera "Schlafes Bruder" for the anniversary "1000 years Austria" in Zürich
Composer-in-Residence of the Camerata Academica, Salzburg
Was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Sciences and Arts by the President of the Republic of Austria Dr Thomas Klestil
Was awarded the Grand Badge of Merit of the federal state of Vorarlberg
World premiere of "Begegnung" for orchestra on the occasion of the celebration "150 years Vienna Philharmonic"
World première of "Rondino for orchestra" in Salzburg
World première of "Eirene" Concerto for trumpet and orchestra (from the Cycle "Montafon") at the Vienna Musikverein
Composer-in-Residence of the "der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde des Wiener Musikvereins" and of "the Wiener Concert-Vereins"
World première of "...geraume Zeit..." Concerto for Flute, Oboe and Orchestra (from the Cycle "Montafon") at the Vienna Musikverein
World premiere of "Kairos im Kronos 1756/1956" for violin, viola and cello
World premiere of "ego eimi" for clarinet and orchestra from the cycle "Montafon" at the Salzburg Festival
Composer in Residence at the Pacific Music Festival Sapporo (J)
Stefan Dohr and the Radio-Symphonieorchester Vienna perform the World premiere of "Äon" for horn and orchestra. This makrs the finishing of the "Montafon Cycle".
World premiere of the new version of the opera "Schlafes Bruder" at the Stadttheater Klagenfurt.
Composer in Residence at the Japanese Kusatsu International Summer Music Academy & Festival featuring the World premiere of "Hello" and "See you again".
World premiere of "Sacrosanto" Concerto for violin and orchestra at the Vienna Musikverein
Premiere "Echo of Eirene"

Premiere "DSONG" for orchestra at the Bregenz Festival

His works have been performed in New York (Carnegie Hall), Tokyo (Sumida Triphony Hall), London (Royal Albert Hall), Vienna (Musikverein, Konzerthaus), at the Salzburg Festival (Großes Festspielhaus, Felsenreitschule) at the Berlin Philharmonic by international orchestras (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra) under the baton of conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa and Christoph von Dohnányi.

Herbert Willi lives as a free-lance composer in St. Anton in the Montafon/Vorarlberg.



Set Descending Direction
  • Eirene
    Conductor: Nayden Todorov
    Orchestra: Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
    May 16, 2024 | Sofia (Bulgaria) , Bulgaria Concert Hall — National Premiere
  • Kairos im Kronos 1756 / 1956
    Schallwende – Festival für Neue Musik
    September 13, 2024 | Feldkirch (Austria)
  • Trio
    Schallwende – Festival für Neue Musik
    September 13, 2024 | Feldkirch (Austria) — World Premiere (Revision)
  • Set Descending Direction