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Boosey & Hawkes sends congratulations to York Höller for his 80th birthday, which he celebrates on 11 January 2024. The Cologne-based composer has enriched the international music scene with his numerous orchestral and chamber music works as well as his acclaimed operatic setting of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.

Recent performances bear witness to Höller's strong musical signature: Tabea Zimmermann successfully performed Höller's Viola Concerto in Cologne and Amsterdam, while Nils Mönkemeyer played it at the Ultraschall Festival Berlin. François-Xavier Roth, the Signum Quartet, the Paris Présences Festival and the Schwetzingen Mozart Festival have recently commissioned him to write works. Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, Martin Helmchen and Bertrand Chamayou have immersed themselves in new pieces by the composer.

And last but not least, the recent new production of The Master and Margarita in 2022 at the Cologne Opera demonstrated the undiminished topicality of this rich and powerful setting of Mikhail Bulgakov's work, which can rightly lay claim to be the greatest novel of the 20th century. In a complex, time-spanning sound panorama, Höller's music leads us through the theatrical and surreal complexity of Bulgakov's burlesque political satire and enduring love story. The staging by Valentin Schwarz followed an earlier Cologne production in 1991, in addition to its premiere at the Paris Opéra (1989) and a staging at the Hamburg State Opera (2013).

As a young man, York Höller witnessed the Cologne premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann's epochal music theatre work Die Soldaten - a key experience. Höller's composition studies led him not only to Zimmermann, but also to Pierre Boulez, at whose IRCAM Institute in Paris he worked. At the invitation of Karlheinz Stockhausen, he worked in the Electronic Studio at WDR Cologne, which he took over as director in 1990. In the same year, he was awarded the Rolf Liebermann Prize for opera composers. Höller has received commissions from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the WDR Symphony Orchestra and leading new music ensembles. Conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Semyon Bychkov and Lothar Zagrosek have shown an affinity with his music. In 2010, York Höller was honoured with the Grawemeyer Award for his orchestral score Sphären, one of the most important international composition prizes.

Höller is still very active: he is currently working on a new orchestral work for the Gürzenich Orchestra in his home city of Cologne, which will be premiered by François-Xavier Roth at the end of 2024. To mark his 80th birthday, concerts are planned in his home town of Leverkusen (Schloss Morsbroich, Forum) and at the Cologne University of Music. The Minguet Quartet, clarinettist Nikolaus Friedrich, pianist Nina Gurol and students from the Cologne University of Music will be among the many musical well-wishers.

The book Crossing - Texts and Commentaries 2004-2019 was published to mark York Höller's 75th birthday. The collection of essays, interviews and documents is rounded off by commentaries on his works and photographic material and is an indispensable source for exploring York Höller's fascinating world of sound.
(Kerstin Schüssler-Bach)

>  Further information on Work: Der Meister und Margarita

Photo: York Höller (© private)

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