Mary Finsterer (born 25 August 1962) is an Australian composer and academic.
Finsterer was born in Canberra in 1962; her siblings are the actors Anni Finsterer and Jack Finsterer. She graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Melbourne. A recipient of the Royal Netherlands Government Award in 1993, she continued her studies in Amsterdam with Louis Andriessen, then returned to Australia and studied with Brenton Broadstock, completing a Master of Music degree in 1995 at the University of Melbourne. She completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2003. In 2006 she received a Churchill Fellowship for her continuing work in multimedia. Finsterer is married to the photographer Dean Golja.
Since 2007 Finsterer has completed a body of work that includes In Praise of Darkness, a major orchestral work for the Dutch ensemble ASKO│Schönberg in association with Tura Music, a violin duo for the acclaimed soloists Natsuko Yoshimoto and James Cuddeford, a string quartet for the Goldner String Quartet, a chamber work for the Sydney Soloists, and a number of works for her 2009 Composer in Residence position at the Campbelltown Performing Arts Centre.
Her orchestral fanfare Afmaeli, was the opening piece for the 70th Birthday celebrations of composer Louis Andriessen at the Holland Festival in 2009. In the same year Finsterer was the winner of the Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize for her new work In Praise of Darkness.
Finsterer has taught music and composition at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, the University of Montreal in Canada, the University of Wollongong, the Victorian College of the Arts, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the University of Sydney and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School where she became an Honorary Research Fellow in 2009. Finsterer is a Vice-Chancellor's Professorial Fellow at Monash University and in July 2014 was announced as the inaugural Chamber Music Australia Chair of Composition at Monash University teach there until 2017. She currently teaches as University of Tasmania whilst working on a new opera. Her works have been performed internationally.
Finsterer has composed for films and electro–acoustic events for the Music Biennale Zagreb, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble InterContemporain, and Ictus Ensemble for performance in Lille and Brussels. She worked as an orchestrator on the 2007 film Die Hard 4.0. Her film music for the 2010 feature film South Solitary received a Film Critics Circle of Australia nomination in 2010, and has since been released on the CD label ABC Classics. Her first opera, Biographica to a libretto by Tom Wright, about the life of Gerolamo Cardano, premiered in January 2017 at the Sydney Festival with the Sydney Chamber Opera at the Carriageworks.
Honors and awards
- "Let's Celebrate Oz Music" ABC Award 1989
- Albert H. Maggs Composition Award 1990 for Catch
- Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne's Forum 91
- Paris Rostrum Prize, 1992
- Music Lives!, Pittsburgh, 1992
- Composer-in-residence with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, 1992
- Royal Netherlands Government Award 1993
- Australia Council Composer Fellowship, 1998
- Churchill Fellowship 2006 for work in the film industry
- Paul Lowin Orchestral Prize 2009 for In Praise of Darkness
- APRA|AMCOS Art Music Award for Vocal Work 2018 for Biographica
Selected works include:
- Achos (1999) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004), ABC Classics)
- Aerea (2013)
- Afmaeli (2009)
- Antea (2012)
- Biographica (2017), opera
- Catch (1992) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Constans (1995) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Ether (1998) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Falling (2012)
- In Praise of Darkness (2009)
- Ionia (2009)
- Kurz (2000) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Lake Ice: Missed Tales No. 1 (2013) for double bass and orchestra
- Nextwave Fanfare (1992) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Nyx (1996) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Omaggio Alla Pieta (1992) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Pascal's Sphere (2000) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Ruisselant (1991) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Sequi (2001) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- Silva (2012)
- Sleep (2002) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- South Solitary (2010), film score (released on CD South Solitary by ABC Classics)
- Tract, for cello (1993) (released on Double-CD Catch (2004))
- "Mary Finsterer". Australian Music Centre. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
- "What Happens Next: Meeting Mary Finsterer" by Andrew Ford, The Monthly, October 2011
- Monash University Alumni Relations (14 July 2014). "Gift to develop the 21st century musician". Monash University Alumni Community. Monash University. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- "Mary Finsterer's new opera, Antarctica, receives $500,000 in philanthropic support". Limelight. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
- Dees, Pamela Youngdahl (2004). A Guide to Piano Music by Women Composers: Women born after 1900.
- "Gerolamo Cardano centre stage for Mary Finsterer's Biographica" by Matthew Westwood, The Australian, 3 January 2017;
"Sydney Festival: Australian Composer Mary Finsterer Premiers Biographica" by Tom Compagnoni, The Huffington Post, 6 January 2017
- Catch – Mary Finsterer, Australian Music Centre
- Barkl, Michael. 2001. "Finsterer, Mary". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.