Oliver Schneller

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Oliver Martin Schneller (b. 26 March 1966 Cologne) is a German composer and saxophonist.


Schneller grew up in Ireland, Sudan, Belgium and the Philippines. After completing a MA in musicology, political science and history at the University of Bonn, he worked for the Goethe Institute in Kathmandu, Nepal (1990–91).

In 1994 he moved to the USA, first studying composition at the New England Conservatory in Boston. From 2000-01 he lived in Paris attending a yearlong course at IRCAM/Centre Pompidou. In 2002 he received his doctoral degree in composition at Columbia University as a student of Tristan Murail, where he also taught composition and computer music as an assistant to Murail. During his time in New York Schneller developed and managed the Computer Music Studio at the Graduate Center of CUNY and taught harmony and counterpoint at Baruch College. Masterclasses with Salvatore Sciarrino, Jonathan Harvey, Brian Ferneyhough, George Benjamin, and Vinko Globokar provided important orientations. From 2002 to 2004 he was compositeur en recherche at IRCAM working on "Jardin des fleuves" a work for ensemble and live-electronic.

Oliver Schneller's music has been performed at international festivals such as Festival Agora Paris, Musica Strasbourg, Munich Biennale, Maerzmusik Berlin, Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, Ultraschall, Wien Modern, IFNM Darmstadt, Tremplins Paris, Les Musiques Marseille, musique action Nancy, Musica nova, Wintermusic Berlin, Karnatic Lab, Alternativa Moscow, the International Computer Music Conference,[1] in Singapore and Göteborg, Musicaaoustica Beijing, Takefu Japan, Indaba, Aspen Music Festival and School, Tanglewood Music Festival, "Frankfurt 2000", and the "Millenium Stage Series" at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

He was a Visiting Composer at the 2001 Festival of Contemporary Music at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and a featured composer at Festival Résonances at IRCAM (2002).

His works have been performed by numerous ensembles including Ensemble modern, Ensemble InterContemporain, MusikFabrik, Ictus Ensemble, Avanti!, ensemble recherche, Speculum Musicae, Court Circuit, Ensemble Mosaik, Südwestrundfunk Orchestra, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, Ensemble Courage, Antares,[2] the Tanglewood Symphony Orchestra, and St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble.

As a saxophonist, he has performed with the George Russell Big Band, the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra as a soloist in Tan Dun's "Red Forecast", as well as with musicians such as Steve Drury, Heather O'Donnell, Jiggs Whigham (Big Band), Bernhard Lang, Ned McGowan, Robin Hayward, Vinko Globokar, and Gert Matthias Wegner.

In 2004 he was the artistic director of the "Tracing Migrations" Festival in Berlin which led to the foundation of the "Tracing Migrations Project", an ongoing documentation and permanently updated data base of contemporary compositions, recordings and newly founded music institutions from the Arab world. In this function he was a co-curator at Berlin's MaerzMusik Festival 2013.

In 2005 he was the curator of the project "The Musical Moment" at Berlin's House of World Cultures featuring composers Toshio Hosokawa and Helmut Lachenmann. From 2005-06 he was a guest lecturer and "mentor" in Cairo as part of the GLOBAL INTERPLAY project of Musik der Jahrhunderte, Stuttgart.[3] At Berlin University of the Arts he taught the seminar "Psychoacoustics and Acoustics for Composers".

Schneller is the artistic director of the SinusTon Festival for Experimental Music in Magdeburg which he co-founded with Carsten Gerth in 2008. In 2004, together with Jean-Luc Hervé and Thierry Blondeau, he formed the composers collective "Biotope". Since 2009 he serves as Sound Arts Curator of ha'atelier Platform for Philosophy and Art and Taswir Projects. His works have been recorded on Wergo, Mode, Hathut, Telos, and LJ Records.

From 2009-2010 Schneller held a professorship in composition at the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart as a sabbatical replacement for Prof. Marco Stroppa. From 2012-2015 he was a professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover. In 2015 Schneller was appointed professor of composition and director of the Eastman Computer Music Center at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, where he resides with his wife, pianist Heather O'Donnell, and daughter.


Selected works[edit]


  • Gammes, full orchestra, 1995
  • Tightrope Dancer, full orchestra, 1996
  • Wu Xing/Fire, full orchestra, 2010
  • Wu Xing/Metal, full orchestra, 2006-11
  • "Dreamspace", full orchestra and soloist ensemble, 2011
  • "Wu Xing/Water", full orchestra, 2013-14
  • Tropes", full orchestra, 2014

Chamber music (1-4 players)[edit]

  • Big City Divertimento, 4 saxophones, 1995
  • Kumoijoshi, soprano saxophone, koto, 1995
  • Hoqueterie, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, guitar, percussion, 1996
  • Marsyas, amplified flute, amplified cello, 1996
  • Processional Suite, 2 guitars, 1996
  • Five Miniatures after Maurice Sendak, French horn, trumpet, trombone, 1998
  • Joyce Paraphrases, amplified string quartet, tape, 1998
  • Trio, cello, piano, accordion, 1999
  • Phantom Islands, (14 players) + electronics, 2000
  • Topoi, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 2000
  • Soleil in memoriam Iannis Xenakis, flute, piano, 2001
  • "Twilight Dialogues, flute, clarinet, viola, percussion, 2005
  • String Space, violin, viola, cello + electronics, 2005
  • Resonant Space, 2 pianos, 2 percussion, 2007
  • per maggior intreccio, flute, harpsichord, 2007
  • Rugged Space, accordion, piano + electronics, 2009
  • Die unendliche Feinheit des Raumes, organ, horn, tuba, percussion + electronics, 2005
  • Vier Szenen, flute, percussion, piano, 2010
  • Cyan, for two pianos and two percussions, 2011

Chamber music (5-22 players)[edit]


  • Rice Pudding (text by A.A. Milne), speaker, piano, 1993
  • Three Songs after Hopkins, Shelley and Meredith, soprano, piano, 1994
  • Alice Setting (text by Lewis Carroll), soprano, mixed chorus, piano, percussion, string orchestra, 1997
  • Pour Schnabelmax. Hommage à Max Ernst (text by the composer), 3 male voices, 1999
  • Candidum lilium for vocal ensemble (SSTTB) + electronics, 2005
  • Abendlied for voice, clavichord, violin, cello, 2009
  • Monodie for voice and electronics, 2010
  • Mugen for Noh voice and electronics, 2011
  • Kireji for vocal ensemble and loudspeakers, 2015


  • Vier Capricen, piano, 1989–90
  • Sieben Bilder, piano, 1995
  • Reed-Weed, alto saxophone, 1996
  • Labyrinth, piano, 1996
  • Aurora, piano, 1997
  • Clouds, piano, 1998
  • Five Imaginary Spaces, piano + electronics, 2001
  • And Tomorrow, piano + electronics, 2004
  • Turbulent Space, recorder + electronics, 2005
  • Track & Field, piano, video + electronics, 2006–07
  • Open Space, organ + electronics, 2011

Electroacoustic + Installation[edit]

  • Variations on a Word, tape, 1997; Bell/Man, tape, 1998
  • Proteus, tape, 1999
  • Cell Cycle, for six channel audio + video, 2007
  • La couleur du son, 4 channel audio-visual installation, 2005
  • WuXing, five channel audio-visual installation, 2007
  • Voice Space, six channel interactive audio-visual installation, 2007
  • An Atlas of Sounds, 42 Channel audio-visual Installation, 2009–10

Collaborative works[edit]

  • Trojan Lion, 5.1 Channel interaktive sound installation with Peter Wyss, 2010
  • Lichtkörper (2009): 4 Channel Sound Installation for suspended speakers with Alexander Polzin, 2009
  • IO, 5.1 Channel Installation with Curtis Anderson, 2006
  • Cento Correnti (2006) 20.1 Channel Sound Installation with Iris Dupper, 2006
  • Ritratto Romano, Soundtrack to a video work of Christoph Brech, 2006
  • Duets I-VII (2006–11): Soundtracks to seven video works of Eberli/Mantel, 2006–11
  • Imperfect Enjoyment, Soundtrack to a video work of Almut Determeyer, 2004


  • Sechs kleine Klavierstücke (Nos. 1,2,6), Op. 19 (Arnold Schoenberg), orchestra, 1989
  • Zehn Märsche um den Sieg zu verfehlen (Nos. 5,9) (Mauricio Kagel), orchestra, 1995
  • All of Me, full orchestra, 2007
  • My Funny Valentine, full orchestra, 2007
  • "You're the Top", wind band, 2012

Publications (selection)[edit]

Translations (selection)[edit]

  • Helmut Lachenmann - Four Questions Regarding New Music transl. into English for: Contemporary Music Review, Vol. 23, No. 3/4 (September 2004)
  • James Harley - "Sonic and Parametrical Entities in Tetras: An Analytical Approach to the Music of Iannis Xenakis, transl. into German for: Musiktexte 91 (December 2001)
  • Neil Leonard.1994. "Kompromißlos und fortschrittlich. Juan Blanco:Kubas Pionier der Elektroakustischen Musik, transl. into German for: Musiktexte 96 (Mai 2003)


External links[edit]