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Heinz Holliger was born in 1939 in Langenthal in the Canton of Bern. He studied oboe (with Émile Cassagnaud and Pierre Pierlot), piano (with Sava Savoff and Yvonne Lefébure), and composition (with Sándor Veress and Pierre Boulez) in Bern, Paris, and Basel. His international career as an oboist, which has taken him to the major music centers all over the world, began in 1959, when he won first prize at the International Music Competition in Geneva; he additionally won the ARD Music Competition in Munich in 1961 – the same year in which he made his debut at the Internationale Musikfestwochen Luzern, now known as LUCERNE FESTIVAL. Holliger has expanded the technical capacities of his instrument and remains a strong supporter of contemporary music as well as of lesser-known works. Many composers, including Henze, Ligeti, and Lutosławski, have dedicated new scores to him. In 1977 Holliger took up his career as a conductor, which soon brought him to the most renowned orchestras, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He has also enjoyed a longterm partnership with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. A composer in his own right, Heinz Holliger was featured in 1998 as composer-in-residence at the IMF Luzern. His opera Schneewittchen premiered in Zurich in 2002, where his latest stage work, Lunea, which is based on scenes from Nikolaus Lenau, was produced in the spring of 2018. Holliger has received numerous awards, including the Sonning Music Prize (1987), the Frankfurt Music Prize (1988), the Siemens Music Prize (1991), the Premio Abbiati of the Biennale di Venezia (1995), the Zurich Festival Prize (2007), and, most recently, the Robert Schumann Prize (2017). He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2016.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 31 August 1961 as oboe soloist in the Passacaglia concertante by Sándor Veress, with Rudolf Baumgartner conducting the Lucerne Festival Strings.