Photo © Manu Theobald / Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation
Born in Germany, Oliver Schneller grew up in Africa, Europe, and Asia and studied in Germany and the United States. His works reflect an interest in space, acoustics, and aspects of interculturality in music. He is the recipient of such honors as Harvard University’s Paul Fromm Award, the Tanglewood Music Center’s Benjamin Britten Memorial Fellowship, the Rome Prize Fellowship, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation’s Composers’ Prize, and more. Together with Simon Emerson and Natasha Barrett, he was a guest artist at ZKM Karlsruhe in 2009, and a fellow at the Experimentalstudio des SWR in Freiburg. In 2013 he was a guest artist at the G.R.M. Studios at Radio France, Paris.
Schneller’s music has been heard at numerous international festivals, including the Festivals Présences and Agora in Paris, Maerzmusik Berlin, Wien Modern, Munich Biennale, Alternativa Moscow, Beijing Modern, Takefu International Music Festival (Japan), Daegu Festival (Korea), the International Computer Music Conferences (ICMC) in Singapore and Göteborg, Musicaaaoustica Beijing, EXPO 2010 Shanghai, Indaba South Africa, Aspen, and Tanglewood. His works have been performed by Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Percussions de Strasbourg, Ensemble Mosaik, Antares, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Daegu Symphony Orchestra, SWR Radio Orchestra, St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra, and other ensembles.
Schneller developed and expanded the Computer Music Studio at the City University of New York. As a composer-in-research at IRCAM, he worked on “Jardin des Fleuves,” a work for ensemble and live-electronic spatial processing. He has taught seminars and master classes on composition, orchestration, and compositional applications of acoustics and psychoacoustics at Cornell University, Yale, Harvard, the University of the Arts in Berlin, Shanghia Conservatory, the Norwegian Theatre Academy, and Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo, and has served as professor of composition at the State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart (2009-2010) and at the Hannover Conservatory of Music (2011-2015). In 2014 he was on the faculty of the Darmstadt International Summer Course in Composition, and in 2015 at the Beijing International Composition Workshop (BICW).
In 2004, Schneller was the artistic director of the “Tracing Migrations” Festival in Berlin, which featured the works of contemporary composers from Arab countries. The following year, he curated “The Musical Moment” at Berlin’s House of World Cultures, a project that explored Eastern and Western concepts of musical beauty involving composers Toshio Hosokawa and Helmut Lachenmann. In addition, Schneller designed the 48-channel sound installation that was part of an exhibition on Islamic and modern worlds prepared by TASWIR Projects.
Schneller is a co-founder of the SinusTon Festival for Experimental Music in Magdeburg, Germany, for which he serves as artistic director, and of the composers collective “Biotope”, together with Thierry Blondeau and Jean-Luc Hervé.
As a saxophonist, Schneller has performed with ensembles such as the George Russell and Jiggs Wigham Big Bands, the Gustav Mahler Youth Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra as a soloist in Tan Dun’s Red Forecast. He also has worked with various jazz and improvisation ensembles in Cologne, Paris, Amsterdam, Boston, and New York.
Schneller earned degrees at the University of Bonn and the New England Conservatory of Music, as well as a Doctorate in composition from Columbia University, where he studied with Tristan Murail. During his studies he received important impulses from Helmut Lachenmann, Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, and George Benjamin.