THOMAS LARCHER – composer, pianist
«His extraordinary, arresting, communicative music is one of this century’s wonders.» (The Times)
Thomas Larcher is one of the leading composers of classical music of our time. His music is inventive, imaginative, captivating, combining contemplative harmonies with extended performance techniques at once experimental and responsive to tradition. His works are commissioned and performed by the world’s most prestigious orchestras – Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Gewandhausorchester zu Leipzig. He collaborates with many celebrated musicians, including Semyon Bychkov, Klaus Mäkelä, Kirill Gerstein, Alisa Weilerstein and Andrè Schuen.
Larcher has written a wide range of chamber music including five string quartets, song cycles, alongside concertos for piano, violin, viola, and violoncello and three symphonies. His first opera, «The Hunting Gun», was premiered at Bregenz Festival and the Aldeburgh Festival – a further production in Amsterdam was a casualty of the pandemic. The opera was shortlisted for an international opera award.
Larcher’s work has been awarded many prices including the most prestigious award of his home country, The Great Austrian State Prize. Other awards include Le Prix de Composition Musicale der Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco, a British Composer Award and The Elise L. Stoeger Prize of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. His recordings have been awarded several international prizes including the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Choc de la musique and the Diapason d’Or.
His music is documented on several CDs, and a new disc has just been released by ECM of «Ouroboros» for cello and orchestra, «Unerzählt» for baritone and piano with poems by W. G. Sebald and «The Living Mountain» for ensemble and soprano with texts by Nan Shepard. Ondine released a new CD in November 2021 of Symphony No. 2 «Kenotaph» and «Die Nacht der Verlorenen» for baritone and ensemble, performed by Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Andrè Schuen, and in 2022 another release contained Symphony No. 1 «Alle Tage» and the Violin Concerto with the Tonkuenstler Orchestra, Hannu Lintu/Pierre Bleuse, Benjamin Beilman and Adrian Eröd.
Highlights of season 2023/24 will be the world premiere of Larcher’s new work for choir and orchestra with texts by Kenji Miyazawa in Gewandhaus Leipzig/Germany in March 2024 with MDR Orchestra and MDR Choir under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies, and performances of Symphony No. 2 «Kenotaph» with Klaus Mäkelä in Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.
Born in 1963 in Innsbruck, Austria, Larcher studied piano and composition in Vienna. Collaborating with leading conductors as a pianist, he performed mostly new music. Encouraged by musician friends, his focus shifted to composing only when he reached his early forties. Growing up as a child with the soundscapes of Mozart, Bach and Schubert and deeply fascinated by jazz giants like Ornette Coleman and Gil Evans in his youth, Larcher’s music combines both, classical European musical tradition and free jazz elements and rhythms.
Throughout his career, Larcher has always been active as promoter of contemporary music. In 1994 he founded Klangspuren Festival Schwaz, which under his leadership has developed into a central festival for new music. He resigned in 2003 to devote more time to composition. From 2004 to 2022, Larcher was artistic director of the chamber music series Musik im Riesen in the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens, an annual gathering of celebrated chamber music stars. In 2023 he founded the chamber music series listening closely, which combines the central ideas of both previous festivals.