Home Events A(R)Talk 07: Olga Neuwirth

A(R)Talk 07: Olga Neuwirth

Image: Priska Ketterer


APRIL 16 | 7 PM



American women gained the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. In 2020, the New York Philharmonic introduced Project 19, a multi-season initiative to commission and premiere 19 new works by 19 women composers, the largest women-only commissioning initiative in history.


Austrian contemporary composer Olga Neuwirth talks about her life and career, as well as her new work commissioned through the New York Philharmonic’s Project 19 Initiative, Keyframes for a Hippogriff- Musical Calligrams in Memoriam Hester Diamond.  President and violist of the Talea Ensemble in New York, Director of Artistic Planning and Administration at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and most recently as the Director, Artistic Planning and Administration at the New York Philharmonic, Elizabeth Helgeson will lead the conversation.



About the Speakers

Olga Neuwirth was born in Graz, Austria, in 1968. She studied at the Academy of Music in Vienna and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During her stay in the States she also attended an art college, where she studied painting and film. Her private teachers in composition included Adriana Hölszky, Tristan Murail and Luigi Nono. She first burst onto the international scene in 1991, at the age of 22, when two of her mini-operas with texts by Elfriede Jelinek were performed at the Wiener Festwochen, since then her artistic practice includes a multiple aesthetical experience taken from film, literature, the everyday-life, visual arts, architecture and science. In 1998 she was featured in two portrait concerts at the Salzburg Festival within the framework of the Next Generation series. Highlights include Clinamen/Nodus for Pierre Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra (2000); collaborations with Nobel Prize winning novelist Elfriede Jelinek with whom she has created two radio plays and three operas, like the multi-media opera Baa-Lambs Fest (1993/1998) after Leonora Carrington and   Lost Highway, based on the film by David Lynch, which was premiered in 2003 and won a South Bank Show Award for the production presented by English National Opera at the Young Vic in 2008; two music-theatre works while living in NYC (2010/11) – The Outcast-Homage to Herman Melville and American Lulu, based on Alban Berg’s ‘Lulu’, which was premiered in Berlin in 2012; filmmusic for Das Vaterspiel (2009), the horror movie Ich seh ich seh (2014) or the silent movie Die Stadt ohne Juden (2017). In 2015 her orchestra piece Masaot/Clock without Hands written for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was premiered in Köln and Vienna and had its US premiere at Carnegie Hall 2016.

For over 30 years Olga Neuwirth has always raised her voice against deplorable states of social-political affairs and her works have explored a wide range of forms and genres: operas, radio-plays, sound-installations, art-works, photography and film-music. Aside from composing, she has also realised sound installations, art exhibitions and short films; one of her multi-media installations was presented at the documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007.   In many works she fuses live-musicians, electronics and video into audio-visual experiences. Among numerous prizes, she was the first-ever woman to receive the Grand Austrian State Prize in the category of music in 2010. She was awarded the Robert Schumann-Preis für Dichtung und Musik in 2021, as well as the prestigious Wolf Prize together with Stevie Wonder.  In 2022 she was the recipient of the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize.

Her opera Orlando after Virginia Woolf was premiered at the Vienna State Opera in December 2019, the first woman commissioned in the 150 year history of the house and was named ’World Premiere of the Year’ by the magazine ‘Opernwelt’. Orlando was awarded the 2022 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition 2022 of the University of Louisville, Kentucky. The opera was released on DVD in September 

on the label Unitel. A new work for orchestra, countertenor and children’s chorus Keyframes for a Hippogriff – in memoriam Hester Diamond was commissioned for world premiere by the New York Philharmonic in May 2020, the performance was postponed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and is now scheduled in 2024. It was given its first performance in September 2021 by co-commissioner Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at Musikfest Berlin conducted by Jakub Hrůša. Further co-commissioner performances will be given by BBC Proms and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra in the 2022/23 season. The orchestral piece Dreydl was premiered in May 2022 as part of her residency at Orchestre National de Lyon.

During the Corona Pandemic Olga Neuwirth created a cycle of diverse pieces called CoronAtion. Image Credits: Harald Hoffmann


As an arts leader, entrepreneur, and musical artist, arts professional Elizabeth Helgeson has built her career around an interest in building communities through the arts: both connecting people to art and as well as connecting people to each other through art. As President and violist of the Talea Ensemble in New York, Director of Artistic Planning and Administration at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and most recently as the Director, Artistic Planning and Administration at the New York Philharmonic, Helgeson has focused her work around strategic initiatives built on understanding the power of the arts and its ability to enrich the lives of those who engage with it.




Apr 16 2024
Artist Talk

Tue ‒ Thu: 09am ‒ 07pm
Fri ‒ Mon: 09am ‒ 05pm

Adults: $25
Children & Students free

673 12 Constitution Lane Massillon
781-562-9355, 781-727-6090