Jörg Widmann’s work as composer is at the core of his musical activities this season which starts with the premiere of his new opera "Babylon" premiered at the Bavarian State Opera under the baton of Kent Nagano and a top-class ensemble of singers with Claron McFadden, Anna Prohaska and Gabriele Schnaut. Frankfurt Alte Oper presents Jörg Widmann within their Auftakt festival, with performances of his works by the HR-Sinfonieorchester and Paavo Järvi and the Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.
His great passion being chamber music, Jörg Widmann will be working with the Hagen, Arcanto and Minguet Quartets, with Tabea Zimmermann, Antoine Tamestit and Francesco Piemontesi in New York, at the Salzburg Festival, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, de Singel Antwerp and the Heidelberg Spring Festival. This season will see him also as soloist with renowned orchestras, amongst them SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg under the baton of Francois-Xavier Roth and Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin with Peter Ruzicka.
In addition to this, Jörg Widmann will intensify his work as conductor keeping his post of Principal Guest Conductor of the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Alongside concerts in Eire they will perform at Berlin’s Konzerthaus and the Rheingau Music Festival.
Widmann studied clarinet with Gerd Starke at Munich Hochschule für Musik and later with Charles Neidich at the Juilliard School in New York. His great passion being chamber music, he regularly makes music with partners such as Tabea Zimmermann, Heinz Holliger, András Schiff, Kim Kashkashian, and Hélène Grimaud. As a soloist, he guest-performs with major orchestras at home and abroad, and has given concerts with conductors such as Christoph von Dohnányi, Sylvain Cambreling, Christoph Eschenbach and Kent Nagano.
Several clarinet concertos have been dedicated to and premiered by him. In 1999 he performed Musik für Klarinette und Orchester by Wolfgang Rihm as part of 'musica viva', and in 2006 Cantus by Aribert Reimann with the WDR Symphony Orchestra and in 2009, at the Lucerne Festival, the world premiere of Rechant by Heinz Holliger. Since 2001 Widmann has been holding a professorship for clarinet at the Freiburg Hochschule für Musik, in 2009 a professorship for composition was added.
At the age of eleven Jörg Widmann began to take composition lessons from Kay Westermann and later continued his studies with Hans Werner Henze, Wilfried Hiller and Wolfgang Rihm. For his achievements as a composer he received the Belmont Award for Contemporary Music of the Forberg Schneider Foundation in 1999, the Schneider-Schott Music Award and Paul Hindemith Prize in 2002. In 2003 he was awarded one of the encouragement awards of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation and the honorary award of the Munich Opera Festival. His opera Das Gesicht im Spiegel was selected by the jury of experts of the Opernwelt magazine as the most important world premiere of the 2003/04 season. In 2004 Widmann received the Arnold Schoenberg Prize by the Vienna Arnold Schoenberg Centre and the Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester Berlin. In 2004 and 2005 he was Composer in Residence at various festivals and orchestras, amongst them the DSO Berlin, NDR ’das neue werk’ and the Salzburg Festival. In 2006 Widmann received the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden/Freiburg’s composition award as well as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Academy’s Claudio Abbado Composition Award. In 2009 he has been awarded The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's Elise L. Stoeger Prize.
Jörg Widmann has composed a trilogy for large orchestra based on the principle of transferring vocal forms to orchestral writing. The trilogy consists of Lied (premiered in 2003 and recorded by Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and Jonathan Nott), Chor (premiered in 2004 by DSO Berlin and Kent Nagano) and Messe premiered by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Christian Thielemann in June 2005. In 2007 Pierre Boulez and the Vienna Philharmonic premiered Widmann's orchestral work Armonica; Christian Tetzlaff and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie premiered his Violin Concerto. 2008 saw the premieres of Antiphon with Paavo Järvi conducting Frankfurt Radio and of the piano cycle Eleven Humoresques, commissioned by Carnegie Hall New York for Yefim Bronfman, followed by the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio and Mariss Jansons premiering Con brio. In March and April 2008 Widmann lived and worked in Dubai. This project was supported by the Siemens Arts Program and the Goethe Institute led to the world premiere of Widmann's Dubairische Tänze in Berlin in May 2009. As part of the 20th anniversary of the Opéra Bastille, Am Anfang, part art installation, part opera by Anselm Kiefer and Jörg Widmann was premiered in July 2009 in which Widmann acted as composer, clarinettist and made his debut as conductor. The Cleveland Orchestra under their Music Director Franz Welser-Möst premiered Widmann’s flute concerto, Flûte en suite, in May 2011, followed by the Europa premiered by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle with soloist Emmanuel Pahud. String Quartets such as the Artemis, the Vogler, the Pacifica and the Minguet Quartets regularly perform his works.
Recently he was Composer in Residence to the Schleswig-Holstein and the Lucerne Festivals, the Cleveland Orchestra, Vienna Konzerthaus and the West Cork Chamber Music Festival.