Michael Obst (composer)

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Michael Obst (born 30 November 1955) is a German composer and pianist.


Obst was born in Frankfurt am Main. He studied music education from 1973 to 1978 in Mainz, and from 1977 to 1982 studied piano with Alfons Kontarsky and Aloys Kontarsky at the Hochschule für Musik Köln, where he sat his piano examination in 1982. At the same time, between 1979 and 1986, he studied composition with Hans Ulrich Humpert in the Studio for Elektronic Music of the Hochschule für Musik Köln. From 1981 to 1986 he was the pianist and a founding member of the Ensemble Modern, from 1986 to 1989 he worked as an interpreter with Karlheinz Stockhausen, playing synthesizer in Stockhausen’s operatic cycle Licht (Visscher 2001).

He was invited to the Studios of Gent (IPEM), Stockholm (EMS), Bourges (Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges), Paris (IRCAM), and Freiburg (SWF-Heinrich Strobel Stiftung) as well as to the Studio for Electronic Music of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne. At IRCAM he realized the electronics for his chamber opera Solaris (to a libretto by Stanisław Lem); the opera received its première at the Munich Biennale in 1996. Since 1997 he has been Professor of Composition at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt in Weimar (Visscher 2001).

Since 2010 he has been Professor for Composition at the University of Music and performing Arts in Vienna.

In works such as Solaris, Obst adopts a modernist sensibility while at the same time questioning its underlying philosophy (Meph 1997, 44).

Compositions (selective list)[edit]

Stage works[edit]

Premiere Title Description Libretto and source
04 Dec 1996, Muffathalle/ Munich Biennale Solaris Chamber opera in 3 parts with an overture and an intermezzo, 90' the composer, after the novel by Stanislaw Lem
10 Jul 1999, National Theater Weimar Caroline Opera in two parts Ralph Günther Mohnnau
25 Sep 2010, Mainfranken Theater Würzburg Die andere Seite Opera Hermann Schneider, after the novel The Other Side by Alfred Kubin

Other works[edit]

  • 1987 Kristallwelt III, for ensemble and tape
  • 1987 Chansons, for mezzo-soprano, 5 instruments, live-electronics, and tape
  • 1989 Miroirs, for 6 vocalists
  • 1990 Nachtstücke, for 7 instruments and live-electronics
  • 1992 Fresko, for 5 instruments
  • 1993 Dr. Mabuse Part I + II, for ensemble and live-electronics (film music for the restored complete version of the silent film "Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler" by Fritz Lang)
  • 1995 Diaphonia, for soloists, orchestra and live-electronics
  • 1997 Shadow of a Doubt, for percussion and ensemble
  • 1999 Octet for Winds
  • 2001 Piano Trio no. 1
  • 2001 Transit, for orchestra
  • 2003 Nosferatu, (music for the classic silent film by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau)
  • 2005 Espaces sonores, for wind quintet and orchestra
  • 2006 Piano Trio no. 2

Discography (selective list)[edit]

  • Metal Drops, inside-metal drop music-Ye-Na-Je, electronic music, CD Wergo WER SM 1043-2
  • Crystal World, Crystal World I-III, electronic music, CD Wergo WER 2011-50
  • Michael Obst, Kristallwelt III-Fresko-Nachtstücke, EIC/IRCAM, CD Universal UN 925 0-048946-530627 (formerly: Adès 205832)


  • Meph, Johannes. 1997. "Sight of Sound". The Musical Times 138, no. 1851 (May): 44–45.
  • Visscher, Eric de. 2001. "Obst, Michael". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

Further reading[edit]

  • Thrall, Michael Voyne. 1997. "Review: Synthèse 96: The 26th International Festival of Electroacoustic Music". Computer Music Journal 21, no. 2 (Summer): 90–92.
  • Warnaby, John. 1996. "Donaueschingen and Stuttgart". Tempo new series, no. 196 (April): 50–51.

External links[edit]

  • Literature by and about Michael Obst in the German National Library catalogue
  • Biography and Photo from the Hochschule für Musik–Weimar (in German)
  • "Michael Obst (composer) biography" (in French). IRCAM.