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Mathias Ruegg

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Mathias Ruegg


Associated acts
Vienna Art Orchestra


Music group
Vienna Art Orchestra

Mathias Ruegg Lia Pale
Composer, bandleader, director

Suite for the Green Eighties, All That Strauss, The Minimalism of Erik Sa, 3 Trilogy ‑ 30th Annivers, Artistry in Rhythm

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Mathias Ruegg (born 8th Dec. 1952 in Zurich) is a European musician, composer, and bandleader best known as founder and director of the Vienna Art Orchestra from 1977 to 2010.


Mathias Ruegg Bilder zu Musiker quotMatthias Reggquot

Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Mathias Ruegg began playing jazz in secondary school. Trained as a schoolteacher, he taught for a while in special-needs schools. From 1973 to 1975 he attended the Musikhochschule in Graz, Austria, studying classical composition and jazz piano. In Vienna he performed in a nightclub as a solo jazz pianist, joined later by saxophonist Wolfgang Puschnig. The duo formed the core of an ensemble that in 1977 became the Vienna Art Orchestra.

Mathias Ruegg Lia Pale Theater Meggenhofen

Ruegg's distinctive, often humorous compositions have drawn on a range of influences from traditional folk music to classics. He has also led the VAO to explore the big band repertory of American jazz composers such as Duke Ellington. Besides the traditional big-band complement, his orchestrations have prominently featured such instruments as the tuba, piccolo, bass clarinet, alphorn, exotic percussion, and wordless vocals. Ruegg has composed hundreds of pieces for the Vienna Art Orchestra, other European big bands, and classical orchestras, as well as theatre music and film music. Since 1994 he has composed several works for soloist and chamber orchestra.

Besides managing the VAO, Ruegg has conducted workshops in Europe, worked as artistic director for music festivals, and headed multimedia and music-related projects. From 1983 to 1987 he directed the Vienna Art Choir. In 1991 he produced the film Mozart's Balls, commissioned by the BBC for the 1991 Mozart Year.

Ruegg founded the Porgy & Bess music club in Vienna and the Hans Koller Prize for Austrian jazz.

In 2011 in New York he composed the music for the new show of the Big Apple Circus.

In 2013 he arranged for and played piano for singer Lia Pale from Wels, Upper Austria.


With the Vienna Art Orchestra

  • The Minimalism of Erik Satie (Hat ART, 1984)
  • Songs

    Jessas Na!
    Isaac Newton Broken Colours
    Voila Di Here
    Song For Another Lovely War
    Another Song For Another Lovely War
    Charly's Trauma
    Concerto Piccolo
    Tango From Obango
    Off Beat Berlin on the Beat
    The Aura Of Coolness
    Play It Louder
    Back To The Blue Notes
    Shadows Over The Jazz Age
    Art & Fun
    Reflections on Severe Reprimande
    Anything Comes - Anything Goes
    Woodstocks Dilemma
    Roll On Jelly
    Steam Stomp
    Tomorrow´s Forms - Today´s Emotions
    Reflections on Aubade
    Chineser Galopp
    Caged Freedom
    The Advantage Of Silence
    Lisboa Reverie
    nightride of a lonely saxophoneplayer
    Immanuel Kant See The Outside Understand The Inside
    Concerto for Voice and Silence
    John Locke Patterns Of Independence
    Bette Davis Smokin' With Bette
    Grace Kelly One Day My Prince Did Come


    Mathias Ruegg Wikipedia