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Aribert Reimann

Aribert Reimann

Country of origin: Germany
Birthday: March 4, 1936
Date of death: March 13, 2024

About Aribert Reimann

Aribert Reimann’s music assimilates an essential artistic constellation in the first modern period, namely the issue of the character of a work and the autonomy of art in view of an externally and internally disjointed society. Art can no longer be of comfort … (Wolfgang Rathert)

Aribert Reimann was born on 4 March 1936 in Berlin. He grew up in a musical family; his father was an organist and director of the Berlin State and Cathedral Choir, his mother was a renowned oratorio singer and singing teacher. Reimann composed his first lieder with piano at the age of ten. After having passed his Abitur [higher education entrance examination] in 1955, he worked as repetiteur in the Studio of the State Opera House in Berlin and simultaneously studied composition with Boris Blacher and Ernst Pepping and piano with Otto Rausch at the Academy of Music in Berlin. He gave his first concerts as pianist and lied accompanist in 1957. A year later, he attended the University of Vienna to study musicology. His ballet Stoffreste based on a libretto by Günter Grass received its premiere at the Städtische Bühnen in Essen in 1959. Music theatre and lieder provided the nucleus for Reimann’s further artistic development. As early as 1971, the composer was awarded the German Critics’ Prize for his complete oeuvre up to that date. From 1974 to 1983, he was professor at the Hamburg Musikhochschule with the specialist area contemporary lied and from 1983 in the same function at the Berlin University of the Arts. Until his death on 13 March 2024, Aribert Reimann lived in Berlin.

The affinity for the human voice provides a strong impulse for Aribert Reimann’s compositional activity. Alongside lied settings of texts by authors such as Paul Celan, James Joyce, Joseph von Eichendorff and Louïze Labé, the composer has also produced numerous chamber music works, solo concertos and orchestral works such as Miniatures for string quartet (2004/05), the two Piano Concertos (1961 und 1972), Seven Fragments for Orchestra (in memoriam Robert Schumann, 1988) and the orchestral work Zeit-Inseln (2004).

Reimann’s operatic output began in 1965 with the first performance of Ein Traumspiel based on a text by August Strindberg in Kiel. This was followed by Melusine, based on the play by Yvan Goll, premiered at the Schwetzingen Festival in 1971. With his opera Lear (1978, Bayerische Staatsoper), Aribert Reimann was able to win over not only specialists and critics but also a wider public for his characteristic personal style: the work has been performed internationally in more than thirty productions. With its basis on the play by William Shakespeare, the composer created music with an almost physical directness which is at all times aware of its existence on the borderline to being struck dumb. In 1984, Die Gespenstersonate, also on a text by August Strindberg, was premiered in Berlin and, in 1986, Troades based on the play by Euripides in the version by Franz Werfel. Reimann undertook a further ambitious literary project from 1990 to1992 with his opera Das Schloß based on the novel by Franz Kafka (first performance 1992): the nightmarish and labyrinthine atmosphere of the text is reflected in a chamber musical and fragile texture of the music. The premiere of Bernarda Alba’s House, based on the text by Federico García Lorca, took place at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich in 2000. Considered as one of the leading German-speaking opera composers, Aribert Reimann has received a commission from the Vienna State Opera to compose an opera on Medea based on the play of the same name by Franz Grillparzer which has been awarded "World Première of the Year" by German magazine "Opernwelt". His latest music theatre work, L'Invisible, is based on three dramas by Maurice Maeterlink and was premiered in autmn 2017 at Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Aribert Reimann has received numerous honours and awards, including the Grand Cross for Distinguished Service of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1985, the 'Prix de composition musicale de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco' in 1986, the Bach Prize of the Free Hanseatic city of Hamburg in 1987, the Order of Merit of the State of Berlin in 1988, in 1991 the Frankfurt Music Prize, the Grand Cross with Star for Distinguished Service of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1995, the Goldene Nadel from the Dramatiker Union in 2002, the Berlin Art Prize for Music and the medal of the Free Academy of Arts in Hamburg in 2002, the Arnold Schönberg Prize in 2006 and the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 2011. In 2018, he was awarded the German theatre award DER FAUST for lifetime achievement, and in 2024 the GEMA Musikautor*innenpreis. In 1999, Reimann was appointed as Commandeur de 'L'Ordre du Mérite Culturel de la Principauté de Monaco’. He is also a member of the Order Pour le Mérite for science and the arts and honorary member of the German Music Council.



geboren am 4. März in Berlin
Abitur in Berlin; Korrepetitor am Studio der Städtischen Oper Berlin
Kompositionsstudium bei Boris Blacher und Ernst Pepping, gleichzeitig Klavierstudium bei Otto Rausch in Berlin
Beginn der Pianistenlaufbahn als Solist und Liedbegleiter
Studium der Musikwissenschaft an der Universität Wien
Berliner Kunstpreis 1962 für Musik (Junge Generation)
Rompreis und Aufenthalt in der Villa Massimo
Hauptpreis zum Robert-Schumann-Preis 1964 der Stadt Düsseldorf Uraufführung der Oper "Ein Traumspiel" an den Bühnen der Landeshauptstadt Kiel
Förderungspreis für junge Komponisten der Stadt Stuttgart
Mitglied der Akademie der Künste Berlin
Uraufführung der Oper "Melusine" bei den Schwetzinger Festspielen
Kritikerpreis für Musik (1970) für sein bisheriges Gesamtwerk und besonders für die Musik zu dem Ballett "Die Vogelscheuchen"
Professur für das zeitgenössische Lied an der Hamburger Musikhochschule
Mitglied der Bayerischen Akademie der Schönen Künste, München
Uraufführung der Oper "Lear" an der Bayerischen Staatsoper München
Professur für das zeitgenössische Lied an der Hochschule der Künste in Berlin
Uraufführung der Oper "Die Gespenstersonate" am Hebbel-Theater Berlin
Mitglied der Freien Akademie der Künste Hamburg
Verleihung des Großen Verdienstkreuzes des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Ludwig-Spohr-Preis der Stadt Braunschweig
Uraufführung der Oper "Troades" an der Bayerischen Staatsoper München
Prix de composition musicale de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco
Bach-Preis der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg
Verdienstorden des Landes Berlin
Verleihung des Frankfurter Musikpreises
Uraufführung der Oper "Das Schloß" an der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Aufnahme in den Orden "Pour le Mérite" für Wissenschaften und Künste; Officier de "L'Ordre du Mérite Culturel" de la Principauté de Monaco
Verleihung des Großen Verdienstkreuzes mit Stern des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Commandeur de "L'Ordre de Mérite Culturel" de la Principauté de Monaco; "Goldene Nadel" der Dramatiker Union
Uraufführung der Oper "Bernarda Albas Haus" an der Bayerischen Staatsoper München
Musikpreis der Kulturstiftung Dortmund 2002; Ehrensenator der Universität der Künste Berlin; Kunstpreis Berlin 2002 für Musik; Plakette der Freien Akademie der Künste in Hamburg
Eintrag in das Goldene Buch der Stadt Bonn; Bayerischer Maximiliansorden für Wissenschaft und Kunst
Ehrenmitglied des Deutschen Musikrats; Mitglied des "Ordre de Saint Charles" de la Principauté de Monaco
Arnold Schönberg Preis Berlin
"Medea" wird in der Kritiker-Umfrage der Zeitschrift Opernwelt zur Uraufführung des Jahres gewählt.
Deutscher Musikautorenpreis der GEMA (Kategorie "Oper/Lied")
Ernst von Siemens Musikpreis
Robert Schumann-Preis für Dichtung und Musik
Uraufführung der Oper "L'Invisible" an der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Deutscher Theaterpreis DER FAUST für das Lebenswerk
Capell-Compositeur bei der Sächsischen Staatskapelle Dresden

gestorben am 13. März in Berlin 


GEMA-Musikautor*innenpreis für das Lebenswerk