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HKG Luzern 005 Priska Ketterer web

Composer, conductor and chansonnier, HK Gruber was born in Vienna in 1943 and sang with the Vienna Boys’ Choir as a child, going on to study at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik.

In 1961 he began playing double bass with Ensemble die reihe and from 1969 to 1998 in the Radio Symphonieorchester Wien. Gruber first began performing as a singer/actor with the ‘MOB art and tone ART’ ensemble which he co-founded in 1968 with fellow Viennese composers Kurt Schwertsik and Otto Zykan. Composing in his own highly individual style, his music is performed internationally by the world’s leading artists and orchestras. Gruber was awarded Austria’s most prestigious cultural prize the 2002 Greater Austria State Prize, and in 2009 was announced as an Honorary Member of the Wiener Konzerthaus, following a great tradition of musicians to also receive this accolade, including Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez, Leonard Bernstein and Claudio Abbado. Gruber is an Honorary Lifetime Trustee of the Kurt Weill Foundation.

Gruber’s compositions have been written for and performed by the foremost orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker and at Lucerne Festival, Carnegie Hall and BBC Proms. Gruber is particularly noted for his concertos, including Aerial for trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, which has received over 60 performances, two for violinist Ernst Kovacic, the Cello Concerto written for Yo-Yo Ma and premiered at Tanglewood in 1989, Busking for trumpet, accordion, banjo and string orchestra, premiered by Hardenberger in 2008 and his percussion concerti Rough Music and into the open... premiered by Colin Currie in 2015. Orchestral scores include Dancing in the Dark, premiered by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle in 2003. Gruber's recent works include the opera Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from the Vienna Woods) premiered at the Bregenz Festival in 2014 and a major new Piano Concerto for Emanuel Ax, co-commissioned by New York Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic.

An active conductor with many major international orchestras, highlights of Gruber’s conducting career include engagements with the Vienna Philharmonic, Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and he was
Composer/Conductor with the BBC Philharmonic from 2009-2015.

Gruber has performed extensively as chansonnier, most notably in Frankenstein!!, his most popular work which he premiered with Sir Simon Rattle and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in 1978 and has received more than 600 performances around the world. He has also performed and recorded as chansonnier in the works of Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler as well as Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King.

A major highlight of the 18/19 season, Gruber conducts Gottfried von Einem’s opera Der Prozess in concert at the Salzburg Festival and Wiener Konzerthaus with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of von Einem, with whom Gruber studied composition. Gruber also performs Frankenstein!!widely in its 40th anniversary season, including performances with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Mozarteum Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. Elsewhere his music is performed by many leading orchestras including Aerial by Håkan Hardenberger and Boston Symphony/Nelsons, Charivari by Hong Kong Philharmonic/Christian Schumann and Busking by Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Storgårds.

Gruber’s recent CD releases see him conduct music by Brett Dean with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for BIS and a release by Chandos of works by fellow Austrian composer Kurt Schwertsik with the BBC Philharmonic. He has also recorded a number of his own works for Chandos and BIS.