Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Munich Biennale

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Munich, Germany

28 May – 9 Jun 2016

Donaueschingen Festival, Klangspuren Schwaz, Wien Modern, MaerzMusik, Schwetzingen Festival


The Munich Biennale (German: Münchener Biennale) is an opera festival in the city of Munich. The full German name is Internationales Festival für neues Musiktheater, literally: International Festival for New Music Theater. The biennial festival was created in 1988 by Hans Werner Henze and is held in even-numbered years over 2–3 weeks in the late spring. The festival concentrates on world premieres of theater-related contemporary music, with a particular focus on commissioning first operas from young composers.


The first four festivals, under Henze

Henze, himself a prolific composer of operas, described the genesis of the festival like this:

The whole story started with a query from the departmental head of the (Munich) cultural office ... whether I ... would be interested in considering creating some sort of civic music festival in Munich. After a period of time I suggested organizing something that had been lacking up until that point, something that also did not exist anywhere else in the world and yet was an urgent necessity – namely, a place where the young generation of composers interested in theatre ... could realize their ideas.

Henze curated the first four festivals, from 1988 to 1994, and established the general format of most of the festivals that followed. Short runs of the premiered operas are preceded by talks and additional concerts from the featured composers, to introduce the audiences to their ideas and music.

The later festivals, under Peter Ruzicka

Peter Ruzicka took over as artistic director ("one of the most influential administrative/ artistic positions in the European music-theatre scene") in 1996, with that year's biennale being jointly curated by Henze. Ruzicka broadened the scope of the works presented, with more emphasis on works using multimedia, and moving away from the text-based sources that characterised the period curated by Henze.

Operas given at the Munich Biennale

World premieres are marked as WP


The Munich Biennale has provided first or early commissions for stage works from many composers now established as opera composers, such as Mark-Anthony Turnage, Detlev Glanert, Gerd Kühr, Hans-Jürgen von Bose, Param Vir, Toshio Hosokawa and Violeta Dinescu.

The strongly international scope of the festival has meant that it has been able to offer opportunities missing at a national level.


Munich Biennale Wikipedia

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