Biography   English | Deutsch
Karola Obermueller’s composing, described by the New York Times as "hyperkinetic music”, is constantly in search of the unknown, often with layers and layers of obscured material buried deep underneath a surface which is at times sumptuous and at times crackling with rhythmic energy.

In recent years, Karola Obermueller’s composing has divided time between the concert hall and the stage. She has written operas for Staatstheater Nürnberg, Theater Bielefeld, the Musik der Jahrhunderte festival in Stuttgart and a collaborative opera for Theater Bonn funded by an Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation Grant.

In that same span she has had commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fromm Music Foundation, Ensemble Modern, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Frankfurter Bachkonzerte, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, Saarländischer Rundfunk, the IPPNW Congress Nürnberg, the Elisenquartet, and Ensemble Phorminx. Having been selected for the WERGO Contemporary Music Edition by the German Music Council, a portrait CD of hers is in progress will be released in the near future.

Among Obermüller’s numerous recognitions was the inclusion as one of three artists featured in the book: "…denn Kunst meint ja immer ein Sich-Preisgeben" by Charlotte Martin. She also has awards from ASCAP, the New York Musicians Club Prize, the Darmstädter Musikpreis, and the Bavarian Youth Prize for Composition (awarded by Zubin Mehta). She was a guest artist at ZKM (Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe) and a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart, Germany), IRCAM (Paris), and Centro Tedesco di studi Veneziani (Venice, Italy) as well as serving as a composer in residence for new music festivals at the Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg and the Conservatorio Piccinni di Bari.

She holds a PhD from Harvard University as well as degrees from the Hochschule für Musik Saar, the University Mozarteum Salzburg, and the Meistersinger-Konservatorium Nürnberg. After teaching at Wellesley College, Obermueller joined the composition faculty at the University of New Mexico in 2010 where she helps direct the composition area and is a co-director of the John Donald Robb Composers' Symposium.
Biography   English | Deutsch

Karola Obermüllers Schaffen konzentriert sich zum einen auf Musiktheaterwerke, die sie für mehrere Opernhäuser und Festivals komponiert hat, als auch auf Musik für “gewöhnliche und ungewöhnliche” Instrumente in diversen Besetzungen. Aufträge und Arbeitsstipendien der jüngsten Zeit haben sie an so unterschiedliche Orte wie Queensland/Australien, Venedig, Alaska, Amsterdam und Montreal geführt, welche ihr Komponieren fast immer in direkter Art und Weise beeinflussen. Sie hat unter anderem in Indien karnatische Musik studiert, in Paris am IRCAM und in Karlsruhe am ZKM gearbeitet. Obermüller hat bei Volker Blumenthaler (Meistersinger Konservatorium Nürnberg), Adriana Hölszky (Mozarteum Salzburg) und Theo Brandmüller (Hochschule für Musik Saar) studiert und an der Harvard University bei Chaya Czernowin, Julian Anderson, Helmut Lachenmann und anderen promoviert. Sie ist derzeit Kompositionsprofessorin an der University of New Mexico.

Aufführungsverzeichnis in Englisch [pdf]

Artikel in DaFacto



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contact: ko[at]karolaobermueller.net

Works
Stage | Large Ensemble | Chamber Music | Electronic

Stage Works (scroll down)
Robert S. (2011), opera for 4 singers, and chamber orchestra after the libretto Flügelschlag Variationen by Klaus Angermann based on a concept by Anja-Christin Winkler, Peter Gilbert and Karola Obermüller.
World premiere September 2011 at Theater Bonn.

Helges Leben (2008/09), collaborative opera with Mark Moebius.
World premiere, July 2009 at Stadttheater Bielefeld.

dreimaldrei gleich unendlich (2009), opera for 4 singers, 2 actors, clarinet, cello, accordion, live electronics and live video after the libretto of the same name by Tina Hartmann.
World premiere July 2009 at Schloß Solitude, Stuttgart as a part of the Musik der Jahrhunderte festival.

Dunkelrot (Dark Red) (2005-2007), opera for 7 singers, actress, live electronics and chamber orchestra after the libretto of the same name by Gabriele Strassmann
World premiere of "Scene 3" on May-07-2005, in the frame of the Harvard University Festival for Electroacoustic Music "Hydra"
World premiere of "Scene 4" on August-12 and 13-2005, in the frame of the "2. opera workshop Rheinsberg"
Complete world premiere in September 2007 in Nuremberg, Germany


Protuberanzen II (2001/02) for trumpet, organ, violoncello, percussion and dancers
Commissioned by the "Auferstehungskirche Fuerth, Germany" (church); world premiere on April-20-2002 in the "Auferstehungskirche Fuerth"

Protuberanzen I (2001) for trumpet, organ, violoncello and dancers
Commissioned by the "ARTIONALE 2001": "ZEITKLANG/KLANGZEIT" - Contemporary church music, for the final concert "Elf Urauffuehrungen fuer Orgel und Ensemble" (eleven premieres for organ and ensemble); World premiere on Nov-10-2001 in the Himmelfahrtskirche (church) Munich-Sendling; produced by Radio Bavaria

My name is Urlappi(1998/99), chamber opera after the "Posse in einem Akt" (farce in one act) of the same name by Herbert Rosendorfer for soprano, mezzo-soprano, violin, saxophone and percussion
World premiere on Nov-8-1999 in the frame of "Tage Neuer Musik 1999" (Festival of Contemporary Music) at "Nuernberg/Augsburg Hochschule fuer Musik, Abt. Nuernberg" (Nuremberg/Augsburg University of Music, Dept. Nuremberg)
Works
Stage | Large Ensemble | Chamber Music | Electronic

Large Ensemble (scroll down)
coiling and swaying. (2015) for chamber orchestra
World premiere by Ensemble Modern in 2015

Glaube. Merke Rolle. (2011) Hommage à Mauricio Kagel for 10 instruments and voice
World premiere at the Hochschule für Musik Saar in Dec. 2011

mass.distance.time (2010) for choir
World premiere by the Neue Vocal Solisten at the Harvard University Department of Music, May 2010

Kohlenmonoxyd.Nachtstück (2006) for two sopranos, narrator, choir and nine instruments (flute, clarinet, horn, trombone, percussion, 2 violins, viola and violoncello), commissioned by "IPPNW" (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War)
World premiere on October-20-2006 in the frame of the "International IPPNW Congress" in St. Sebald in Nuremberg (Germany)

helical (2005/2006) for chamber orchestra; dedicated to "Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne"
World premiere on March-25-2006 at "Muziekgebouw aan’t Ij", Amsterdam, by "Nouvel Ensemble Moderne"

Schalen (peels / shells) (2005) for orchestra
World premiere on July-19-2005 in Metz, France, by "Orchestre National de Lorraine" conducted by Jacques Mercier, within the frame of "Centre Acanthes 2005"

volatile (2003/2004/2005) for chamber orchestra
World premiere on May-21-2005 in Cambridge, MA / USA, Harvard University, Department of Music, by "Alarm Will Sound" (New York City)

Im Vorraum (In the anteroom) (2000-2002) for orchestra
World premiere on May-9-2002 at the "Saarbruecken Komponisten Werkstatt 2002" (Saarbruecken Workshop for Composition 2002) in the frame of the Saarland Radio Festival "Music in the 21st Century" by the "Saarbruecken Radio Symphony Orchestra" conducted by Manfred Schreier; produced by Radio Saarland

Works
Stage | Large Ensemble | Chamber Music | Electronic

Chamber Music (scroll down)
prati (2015) for trumpet and organ
Commissioned by Frankfurter Bachkonzerte

Myrmecia (2015) for guitar, harp and dulcimer
World premiere by International Contemporary Ensemble (Daniel Lippel, Nuiko Wadden & Nathan Davis), 2015

Pulstastung II (2014) for piano
World premiere by Emanuele Arciuli, 2014

Footprints (linger) (2013) for oboe and viola
World premiere by Kevin Vigneau and Kim Fredenburgh, 2013

elusive corridors (2013) for clarinet, piano and live electronics
World premiere by Michael Norsworthy and Yoko Hagino, 2013

xs II (2012) for string quartet
World premiere by Elisen Quartet, 2012

…silbern (2008-11) for bass flute solo (alternate version for alto flute
World premiere by Mario Caroli at the Harvard University Music Department, May 2008

:mass:distance:time: (2010) for six voices
World premiere by the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, 2010

Untergegangen der Mond (2008) for countertenor/bass and ensemble; commission by the Bayerischer Rundfunk
World premiere by Kai Wessel & ars nova ensemble Nürnberg at "Passagen" @ Kulturforum Fürth, Oct. 2008

Las cosas, unas conducen a otras (2002/08) for two flutes
World premiere by Carin Levine & Elizaveta Birjukova at the Weimarer Frühjahrstage für Zeitgenössiche Musik, April 2009

Für Wilfried (2008) for horn solo, collaborative composition with Peter Gilbert
World premiere by Wilfried Krüger at the Musik im Neuen Museum Nürnberg, Dec. 2008

…und Licht sich breitet aufs Meer… (2008) Sapphic Stanzas for soprano saxophone and live electronics
World premiere by Eliot Gattegno at the Harvard University Music Department, May 2008

reflejos distantes (2006) for bass flute, bass clarinet, violin and violoncello; for the Ensemble Phorminx
World premiere on December 16th and 18th, 2006, in Darmstadt and Tübingen, Germany, by the Ensemble Phorminx

Red Lake Fields 2 (2002/2006) for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello and percussion
For the "ensemble phorminx"; world premiere on Dec-2-2006 at "museum für angewandte kunst" in Frankfurt, Germany

will o' wisp (2006) for recorder, flute, bass-koto and accordion
World premiere on October-11-2006 in the frame of "KlangAktionen im Gasteig München" by Jeremias Schwarzer, Carin Levine, Makiko Goto und Konstantin Ischenko

WindKaskaden (2006) for clarinet and accordion; dedicated to Andrea Nagy and Viviane Chassot

gegen.wind.stärken 1 (2005/2006) for great bass recorder and electronics; dedicated to Jeremias Schwarzer
World premiere on May-13-2006 in the frame of the Harvard University Festival for Electroacoustic Music "Hydra", by Jeremias Schwarzer

Nichts Fettes nichts Süßes. (Nothing Fat nothing Sweet.) (2001/2005) — in memoriam Clara & Robert Schumann - for clarinet, alto saxophone, piano and percussion; dedicated to my father
For the 150th anniversary of "Darmstadt Akademie fuer Tonkunst" (Darmstadt Conservatory of Music) 2001; World premiere on March-10-2002, produced by Hessian Radio; World premiere of revised version on March-07-2006 at the "Darmstadt Akademie fuer Tonkunst"

xs (2005) for string quartet; dedicated to the "Arditti Quartet"
World premiere on April-02-2006 in Cambridge, MA / USA, Harvard University, Department of Music, by the "Arditti Quartet"

Knotenpunkte (points of knotting) (2005) for alto flute, clarinet, harp and string quartet
World premiere on February-11-2006 in Cambridge, MA / USA, Harvard University, Department of Music, by ensemble-in-residence "White Rabbit"

les sables mouvants(quicksand / drifting sand) (2004) for clarinet, piano, violin and violoncello
World premiere on October-21-2004
in Cambridge, MA / USA, at Harvard University, Department of Music, by "Interensemble" (Padova/Italia)

in zwischen (in between / in the meantime) (2004) for soprano, recorder, 3 violas, 2 viola da gambas and harpsichord after texts by Ursula Haas; dedicated to "ensemble avantage"
Commissioned by "ensemble avantage", World premiere on October-06-2004 in the "Orff-Zentrum", Munich, by "ensemble avantage"; produced by Radio Bavaria

shraeng (2004) for two electric guitars, dedicated to the guitar duo "shraeng"
Commissioned by the "Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts", World premiere on June-06-2004 in the "Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts", Munich, by the guitar duo "shraeng"

but one adagio smile still lingers (2004) in memoriam Rose Ausländer for violoncello solo, dedicated to Frances-Marie Uitti
World premiere on May-22-2004 in Cambridge, MA / USA, at Harvard University, Department of Music, by Frances-Marie Uitti

Metamorphosen (metamorphoses) (since 2003) for oboe solo, dedicated to Jacqueline Leclair, work in progress
World premiere of fragments I-VII on Sept-21-2003 in Zell an der Pram, Austria, in the frame of the "22. Polyaisthesis Symposion"

Kalpa><Pralaya (2002) for bansuri, sitar, mridangam and orchestra
Commissioned by the "Munich Institute of India", in the frame of the "Bavarian Youth Award for Composition 2001"; World premiere on Nov-6-2002 at the "Munich University of Music and theater" by the Arcis Ensemble conducted by Ulrich Nicolai

Red Lake Fields (2001/02) for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello and piano
For the "ensemble phorminx"; world premiere on June-3-2002 in Tuebingen, Germany, in the frame of the concert series "new music in the sudhaus - Contemporary music in Tuebingen"

Protuberanzen II (2001/02) for trumpet, organ, violoncello, percussion and dancers
Commissioned by the "Auferstehungskirche Fuerth, Germany" (church); world premiere on April-20-2002 in the "Auferstehungskirche Fuerth"

duo variabile I (2001/02) for flute and recorder
For the "Duo Variabile" (Carin Levine and Jeremias Schwarzer); world premiere on Feb-28-2002 at "Nuremberg-Augsburg University of Music, Dept. Nuremberg"; produced by Radio Bavaria

Einseitige Dialoge(one-sided dialogues) (2000-2002), three songs based on poems of the same name by Gabriele Strassmann for mezzo-soprano and piano
World premiere on Jan-23-2002 at "University Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria"

Protuberanzen I (2001) for trumpet, organ, violoncello and dancers
Commissioned by the "ARTIONALE 2001": "ZEITKLANG/KLANGZEIT" - Contemporary church music, for the final concert "Elf Urauffuehrungen fuer Orgel und Ensemble" (eleven premieres for organ and ensemble); World premiere on Nov-10-2001 in the Himmelfahrtskirche (church) Munich-Sendling; produced by Radio Bavaria

the great secret lies" (2001) for pipa, kayagum and marimbaphone
Commissioned by the "CrossSound-Festival for Contemporary Music Alaska / USA 2001"; World premiere on August-24-2001 in Sitka / Alaska

....incalzando….(1999-01) after a poem by Nelly Sachs for cor anglais and organ
Commissioned by Johanniskirche Nuernberg (church Nuremberg); World premiere on March-17-2001 in "Auferstehungskirche" (church) in Fuerth, Germany

Music for recorder, harp and harpsichord (1999/00)
World premiere on May-20-2000 in the frame of "Blaue Nacht 2000" (Blue Night 2000) in "Nuernberger Akademie" (Nuremberg Academy)

The Gold (1999) for mezzo-soprano and percussion
Commissioned by the festival "Ortung I" 1999 in Schwabach, Germany; world premiere on Aug-7-1999 in Schwabach

Five scraps of fury(1995-98) for piano solo, dedicated to my mother Barbara
World premiere on July-20-1998 at Nuremberg Meistersinger Konservatorium

String Quintet 1997 (1996-98) for two violins, viola, violoncello and double-bass
World premiere on July-20-1998 at Nuremberg Meistersinger Konservatorium

Three songs about love (1992-94) based on texts by Ingeborg Bachmann and Bertold Brecht for mezzo-soprano, baritone, piano, marimbaphone and two violoncelli
1. Round dance (Bachmann)
2. Reminiscence of Marie A. (Brecht)
3. Acquisition of land (Bachmann)
World premiere on Sept-12-1994 at Darmstadt Akademie fuer Tonkunst (Darmstadt Conservatory of Music)

Works
Stage | Large Ensemble | Chamber Music | Electronic

Electronic Music (scroll down)
elusive corridors (2013) for clarinet, piano and live electronics
World premiere by Michael Norsworthy and Yoko Hagino, 2013

Listening to Mountains (2013) installation in collaboration with Peter Gilbert, Balance/Unbalance conference, University of Queensland (Australia)

imPuls(tastung) (2012) quadrophonic electronic music
World premiere at the John Donald Robb Composers Symposium, March 2012

An Overlapping of Spaces (2009-10) installation in collaboration with Peter Gilbert, Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College

…silbern (2008) for bass flute solo
World premiere by Mario Caroli at the Harvard University Music Department, May 2008

…und Licht sich breitet aufs Meer… (2008) Sapphic Stanzas for soprano saxophone and live electronics
World premiere by Eliot Gattegno at the Harvard University Music Department, May 2008

moving in spirals (2004) quadrophonic electronic music
World premiere on March-20-2004 in Cambridge, MA / USA, at Harvard University, Department of Music

Menschenfresser (ogre) (2003) for tape
World premiere on May-30-2003 at "University Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria"

Imaginary Landscape No. 5 (2002/03), electronic music study after a model by John Cage for tape
World premiere on March-01-2003 in Salzburg, Austria, Experimental Academy of Dance (SEAD), in the frame of "Aspekte-Festival Salzburg 2003"

Kleines Konzert (little concert) (2002) Sprachkomposition after a poem of the same name by Georg Trakl for tape
World premiere on Nov-16-2002 in Salzburg, Austria, Petersbrunnerhof (Elisabethbühne); in the frame of "IGNM-Musikfest Salzburg 2002, Konzert mit multimedialen Produktionen aus dem Studio für elektronische Musik der Universität Mozarteum"

TEACHING
The Composition Program at the University of New Mexico
Prof. Obermüller joined the UNM faculty in 2010. She teaches composition courses and private lessons as well as assisting with the New Music ensemble and serving as co-artistic director of John Donald Robb Composers' Symposium.

Teaching Philosophy:
"Teaching, to me, is a deeply important endeavor. At the college level, one-to-one teaching really becomes mentoring. My interest as a composition teacher is in uncovering and provoking a student's musical core—what they and their music have to say—and then guiding this core while providing it adequate space to respond and grow in its own unique way. I believe that it is critical for a composition teacher to believe along with her students that the work they do is significant and crucial to humanity and will contribute to positive change in the world.

In composition lessons, my first task is to listen to the student, to connect with her or his personal experience. My second task is to ask questions. Asking questions is like planting seeds, and one needs to be patient. Sometimes, lessons are fairly straight-forward and about learning techniques and skills, such as studying orchestral scores and their particular orchestration, understanding what you hear and why you hear it. At other times, the issues are a lot more complex and intricate, for example when a student is stuck with a piece and has no clue as to why that is. Then I have to find the right questions to ask, so that the blockage can dissolve itself. Sometimes the student needs a boost of self-assurance, sometimes it is an exercise that I need to make up, based on the problem at hand.

One goal in teaching composition is to waken the student's mind and ear, feeding the imagination and curiosity in search of the music inside her, inside him. One goal is to find the music that the student wants to write and that has the potential to be transformative. These goals are accomplished through lots of questions, through trust and respect, through learning from the students, through giving space when space is needed, and through valuing each person's uniqueness and unique life-path.

Composition is something that you can and need to study but ultimately you have to do it in order to become a composer. Composition lessons are a reflection of that. It is a space in which the student and I experiment without recipe. It is here where we explore fundamental questions of life and death, of art and humanity, through music. It is here where we touch the unknown. "

- Karola Obermüller