Portrait by Geordie Wood

Olga Neuwirth

Wolf Prize Laureate in Music 2021

Olga Neuwirth


Award Citation:

“for her outstanding mastery, artistry and communicative skill as a composer of today”.


Prize Share:

Olga Neuwirth

Stevie Wonder


Both Olga Neuwirth and Stevie Wonder, though fundamentally different in genre and style, have pushed the boundaries of their art, each in his/her own realm of expression, to serve as vehicle for universal values and humanistic ideals.

Olga Neuwirth was born in 1968 in Graz, Austria and studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts and San Francisco Conservatory of Music, also studying painting and film at San Francisco Art College. For over 30 years Olga Neuwirth’s works have explored a wide range of forms and genres: operas, radio-plays, sound-installations, art-works, photography and film-music. In many works she fuses live-music, electronics and video into audio-visual experiences. Her work, characterized by an incomparable tonal language and the exploration of new musical forms, has been highly celebrated by audiences and critics worldwide over the last decades and is without doubt a significant enrichment of the repertoire of contemporary music. Olga Neuwirth is one of the most complete contemporary composers of her generation. Her constant quest for adventure and innovation has resulted in a creative outpouring of a rare intensity and her work is a testimony to a masterful, singular voice that is ever-resistant to outside pressures. Her Music-theatre pieces expand the collaborative vocabulary of opera, to explore further interactions between traditional ensembles, live-electronics, imagery and architecture using advanced audio-visual technologies, unfolding a new world of sound images, mixing traditional fragments of multiple source, creating metamorphoses characterized by shifts, transgressions and associative references. Neuwirth chooses her topics with great sensitivity and relevance. They run from focusing on the human voice as a manifestation of the soul, through feminism and gender identity to poignant reflection on dark historical moments. Olga Neuwirth’s brilliant and courageous art serves her as a platform to explore burning contemporary philosophical, social and political ideas, bringing them to the awareness of multiple audiences in the world’s most prestigious venues


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