Olga Neuwirth was born in Graz, Austria, in 1968. She studied at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She also attended an art college in the United States where she studied painting and film. She first burst onto the international scene in 1991, at the age of 22, when two of her mini-operas with texts by Elfriede Jelinek were performed at the Wiener Festwochen.
In 1999, Pierre Boulez commissioned Clinamen/Nodus for his 75th birthday tour with the London Symphony Orchestra. In 2002 Olga was appointed Composer in Residence at the Lucerne Festival.
She created two radio plays and three operas with Nobel Prize winning novelist Elfriede Jelinek. Her opera LostHighway, based on the film by David Lynch, premiered in 2003 and won a South Bank Show Award for the production presented by English National Opera at the Young Vic in 2008.
In addition to composing, she has also realised sound installations, art exhibitions and short films; one of her multi-media installations was presented at the documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007. Aside from her operas, Olga Neuwirth’s most notable works include: the piano concerto locus….doublure…solus… and the trumpet concerto miramondo multiplo… premiered by Hakan Hardenberger and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Pierre Boulez.
In 2010, as the first woman ever in the music category, she received the Grand Austrian State Prize.
In 2012 Olga Neuwirth completed two new operas while living in NYC: The Outcaston Hermann Melville, and American Lulu, a version of Alban Berg’s Lulu premiered in Berlin. In early 2015 she completed film scores for two silent films, and a new orchestral work for her Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraMasaot/Clock without Hands - the work was premiered in Koln and Vienna conducted by Daniel Harding, and its US premiere at Carnegie Hall conducted by Valery Gergiev 2016 as a co-commission with Carnegie Hall.
Salzburg Festival presented her Eleanor Suite for Blues Singer and ensemble with Klangforum Wien under Sylvian Cambreling in Summer 2015 and in Autumn 2015 Le Encantadas o le avventure nel mare delle meraviglie was premiered - a major electronic/space/ensemble piece for the Ensemble Intercontemporain, performed at Donaueschingen and Festival d’Automne Paris with further performances at the Holland and Lucerne Festivals in 2016, and Vienna’s Wien Modern in 2017.
Olga Neuwirth was the 2016 Lucerne Festival’s Composer in Residence with multiple performances and the premiere of her percussion concerto Trurliade-Zone Zero is currently writing her opera Orlando which is commissioned by Vienna State Opera.