© Martin Hangen ECM
© Martin Hangen ECM

Heiner Goebbels, born on August 17, 1952 in Neustadt/Weinstrasse, lives in Frankfurt/Main since 1972. He studied sociology and music.

While doing several record productions and many concerts with the Goebbels/Harth-Duo (75-88), Sogenanntes Linksradikales Blasorchester (76-81), and the art-rock-group Cassiber (82-92), he wrote at the same time theatre music (for Hans Neuenfels, Claus Peymann, Matthias Langhoff, Ruth Berghaus and other directors), film music (for Helke Sander, Dubini Brothers, and many others) and ballet music (for the Ballet Frankfurt).

In the middle of the 80s he began composing and directing audio plays of his own, most of them based on texts by Heiner Mueller Verkommenes Ufer (Wasteland Waterfront), Die Befreiung des Prometheus (The liberation of Prometheus), Wolokolamsker Chaussee I-V (Volokolamsk Highway), Schliemanns Radio, Der Horatier/Roman Dogs/Chiens Romains and others.

After the staged concerts Der Mann im Fahrstuhl (Man in the Elevator) 1987, Die Befreiung des Prometheus (The liberation of Prometheus), 1991 and the concert for dancers Thraenen des Vaterlands (Tears of the fatherland), together with Christoph Nel/Ballet Frankfurt, 1986, he created together with Michael Simon the music theatre pieces Newtons Casino in 1990 and Roemische Hunde (Roman Dogs) in 1991 at the TAT in Frankfurt.

Since 1988 Heiner Goebbels composes ensemble music for the Ensemble Modern (Red Run, Befreiung, La Jalousie) and the Ensemble Intercontemporain (Herakles 2).

In 1994 followed Surrogate Cities, a 90 minutes composition for big orchestra commissioned by the Alte Oper Frankfurt and performed by the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, conductor: Peter Rundel. 1996, as a commision for Donaueschingener Musiktage, he composed Industry & Idleness (premiered by Radiokamerorkest Hilversum, conductor: Peter Eotvos). Walden for extended orchestra was created in 1998 for the first tour of the newly founded Ensemble Modern Orchestra (conductor: Peter Eotvos). 2021 followed by the large orchestra composition A House of Call

Invitations to nearly all major theatre-, music- and performing arts -festivals and tourings with all his ensembles, the productions for stage got him to more than 50 countries in the last 30 years. More than 20 CD productions have been published.

In 1993 the music theatre piece Ou bien le débarquement désastreux (Or the hapless landing) was directed by himself in Paris. In 1995 his music theatre piece Die Wiederholung (The Repetition, La Reprise - based upon motifs by Kierkegaard, Robbe-Grillet and Prince) was created in Frankfurt (Theater am Turm). His music theatre piece Schwarz auf Weiss (Black on White) was created at the TAT Frankfurt in 1996 for 18 musicians of the Ensemble Modern. It was filmed for Arte, recorded for BMG and the SWF and is still being shown in Europe and overseas.

Apart from several installation and exhibition projects in Bauhaus Weimar, Centre Pompidou, ZKM, MAC Lyon, Museum Mathildenhöhre, Albertinum Dresden, New Space Moscow, Kunsthalle Gießen, Museo da Arte Bogota and many others, he participated in documenta VII, VIII and X with concerts, performances, and installations - in 1997 with his music theatre sketch Landscape with man being killed by a snake. Followed by installations at Museo de Arte Bogota 2019, Elefsina 2023, Vilnius 700, Museo Reina Sofia Madrid, Musée du Luxembourg Paris, World Heritage Völklingen 2023

In 1997 he also created the music theatre piece Schliemann's Scaffolding in Athens and Volos. The music theatre piece Max Black with Andre Wilms premiered in April 1998 in Lausanne, and together with the Ensemble Modern he created a tribute to Hanns Eislers' 100th anniversary called Eislermaterial - a staged concert which was first shown in Munich in May 1998.

In 2000 Heiner Goebbels composed the sound installations Timée / Timeios and Fin de Soleil for Centre Pompidou in Paris, the music theatre piece Hashirigaki in Theatre Vidy and the staged concert ...même soir.- with Les Percussions de Strasbourg.

Nearly all of his music theatre works have been performed between 50 and 150 times on the major music and theatre festivals in Europe as well as in the USA, Southamerica, Australia and Asia.

1994/95 guest professor at "Institut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft" University Giessen.
1997/98 guest professor at "Musikhochschule Karlsruhe - Kompositionsklasse".

Nearly 20 years - from 1999 until 2018 - Heiner Goebbels worked as a professor (and from 2003 until 2011 as a managing director) at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies of the Justus Liebig University in Giessen (Germany). He was in charge of the artistic practise, seminars, and scenic projects, as well as cooperative projects with the students of international institutions (in Italy, France, Austria, Denmark, Netherlands etc). The institute is as well dedicated to scientific research as to artistic practice (contemporary theatre and performance) and especially to the possibilities of linking both. (For further information please visit its homepage).

Since then, he is widely engaged to advance the conditions and structures of contemporary theatre education being a cofounder of several cooperative structures like the Hessian Theatre Academy, the Hessian Film- and Media Academy, tanzlabor_21 and Frankfurt LAB. He also worked in several boards for upcoming experimental artists.

2018 he recieved the first appointment for the newly established Georg Büchner Professorhip (until 2024) from the President of the Justus Liebig University, which was established at the interdisciplinary research centre ZMI - Centre for Media and Interactivity in Gießen.

In 2002 Heiner Goebbels premiered his first opera Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten / Paysage avec parents éloignés / Landscape with distant relatives. In the context of his 50th birthday Heiner Goebbels released his first book "Komposition als Inszenierung". Also ECM released a CD of Eislermaterial.

In 2003 Heiner Goebbels premiered his orchestra piece Aus einem Tagebuch (From A Diary) as a comission of the Berlin Philharmonics / conductor Sir Simon Rattle. in this season the Berlin Philharmonics performed ten concerts with the music of Heiner Goebbels: two performances of Surrogate Cities in Lausanne and Berlin and many following concerts of Aus einem Tagebuch (From A Diary) in Salzburg, London, New York, San Francisco and others.

In 2004 he premiered his music theatre piece called Eraritjaritjaka - museé des phrases after words by Elias Canetti with the actor André Wilms and the Mondriaan String Quartett at the theatre vidy in lausanne, which has been awarded with seven international theatre prizes and performed more than 125 times worldwide.

From 2006 until 2018 Heiner Goebbels was President of the Theatre Academy Hessen.

In 2007 he premiered the performative installation Stifters Dinge - a music theatre producion without performers, musicians or actors. After the first shows at the coproducing institutions in Lausanne, Berlin, Luxembourg and Frankfurt this piece is touring worldwide and had already more than 250 performances. A CD of Stifters Dinge was released by ecm records in 2012. In 2007 also the staged concert Songs of Wars I have seen has been composed for the London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra in the Age of Enlightenment, London - with words by Gertrude Stein.

In 2008 he premiered his music theatre production I went to the house but did not enter on the Edinburgh International Festival, with the Hilliard Ensemble and Texts by T.S.Eliot, Maurice Blanchot and Samuel Beckett.

In 2007/2008 he was fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for advanced studies), in 2010 artist in residence of the Cornell University, Ithaca, USA.
2012 awarded with the International Ibsen Award by the Norwegian Government - and with a Honorary Doctorate by the Birmingham City University.
For the Years 2012, 2013, 2014 Heiner Goebbels worked as artistic director for the "Ruhrtriennale - International Festival of the Arts'.

In 2012 he premiered his latest music theatre production When the Mountain changed its clothing as well as John Cage: Europeras 1&2 on the Ruhrtriennale - International Festival of the Arts. In 2013 he directed the European Premiere of Harry Partch: Delusion of the Fury, in 2014 a new production of Louis Andriessen: De Materie.

As artistic director of the "Ruhrtriennale - International Festival of the Arts 2012-2014" Heiner Goebbels curated, produced and presented two new works by Robert Wilson, three new works by Romeo Castellucci, and more new works by Michal Rovner, Boris Charmatz, Robert Lepage, Jan Lauwers, Ryoji Ikeda, Douglas Gordon, William Forsythe, Lemi Ponifasio, Mathilde Monnier, Saburo Teshigawara, Anne Teresa de Keersmaker, Rimini Protokoll, Tim Etchells, Gregor Schneider and many others.

More and more he also works as a light designer for his staged concerts, such as Songs of Wars I have seen, Surrogate Cities, Louis Andriessen: De Materie / staged concert version, and in collaboration with John Brown also for Everything that happened and would happen, for A House of Call in collaboration with Hendrik Borowski, for Liberté d'action with Marc Thein.

In 2018 he created the music theatre work mit einem Namen aus einem alten Buch and the Sound-. und Videoinstallation Landschaftsstücke/Landscape Plays in Gießen, and the large scale performance Everything that happened and would happen produced by Artangel London and the Manchester International Festival. in 2019 this production was presented by the coproducers Park Avenue Armory New York and Ruhrtriennale aswell as during the Theatre Olympics in St. Petersburg (2019) and in Budapest (2023).

In 2020 he composed the orchestra cycle A House of Call, which had its world premiere due to the Corona pandemic only in 2021 at Berlin Philharmony, Cologne Philharmony, Hamburg Elbphilharmony and others in September 2021. He also composed a new radiowork "Gegenwärtig lebe ich allein" with words by Henri Michaux and a music theatre piece called Liberté d'action in 2021. He published an expanded Edition of his Ästhetik der Abwesenheit and the book A House Of Call - Materialausgabe

As guest professor of Goethe University Frankfurt in 2023 he led a stage project for students referring to Bertolt Brecht's 'Lehrstücke' at Frankfurt LAB. IN 2024 he was invited as Visiting Professor at the University of Genova.

Heiner Goebbels

composer, director - living in Frankfurt and Berlin. Compositions for ensemble and orchestra, music theatre, sound and video installations. 2018-2024 Georg Büchner Professor at Gießen University. Artistic Director of Ruhrtriennale 2012–2014. Anthology "Aesthetics of Absence". Numerous international awards: Prix Italia, European Theatre Price, International Ibsen Award.

Heiner Goebbels

German Composer and director, born 1952, living in Frankfurt/Main and Berlin, belongs to the most important exponents of the contemporary music and theatre scene. Created internationally celebrated compositions for ensemble and large orchestra (Surrogate Cities, A House Of Call), music-theatre pieces (Max Black, Eraritjaritjaka) staged concerts (Songs of Wars I have Seen), radio plays, sound- und video installations (Documenta, Centre Pompidou, Museo da Arte Bogota, Museo Reina Sofia Madrid - among others). CD productions for ecm-records.

1999 - 2018 Professor at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies at Justus Liebig University, Gießen, from 2018-2024 first holder of the Georg Büchner Professorship at Center of Media and Interactivity. Artistic Director of Ruhrtriennale – International Festival of the Arts 2012 – 2014. Anthology "Aesthetics of Absence" (2015). Numerous international awards (Prix Italia, European Theatre Price, International Ibsen Award, Grammy nominations a.o.)

Heiner Goebbels

Komponist und Theatermacher, geb.1952, lebt seit 1972 in Frankfurt/Main; Studium der Soziologie und Musik. Szenische Konzerte, Hörstücke, Kompositionen für Ensemble und großes Orchester (Surrogate Cities, 1994, A House Of Call 2021). Seit Beginn der 90er Jahre Musiktheaterwerke: Ou bien le débarquement désastreux (Paris 1993) Schwarz auf Weiss (Frankfurt, 1996), Max Black (Lausanne, 1998), Eislermaterial (München,1998), Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten (Genf, 2002), Eraritjaritjaka(Lausanne, 2004), Songs of Wars I have seen (London, 2007) Stifters Dinge (Lausanne, 2007), I went to the house but did not enter (Edinburgh, 2008), When the Mountain changed its clothing (Bochum, 2012), Everything that happened and would happen (2018) u.a. Mit allen seinen Konzerten und Musiktheaterstücken zahlreiche Gastspiele auf den weltweit wichtigsten Musik-, Theater- und Kunstfestivals.

Sound- und Video-Installationen Documenta 1987 & 1997, Artangel London 2012, Musée d’art contemporain Lyon 2014, Albertinum Dresden 2016, New Space Moskau 2017, Kunsthalle Gießen 2018, Museo de Arte Bogota 2019, Elefsina 2023, Vilnius 700 2023, Museo Reina Sofia Madrid 2023, Musée du Luxembourg Paris 2023, World Heritage Völklingen 2023

CD Produktionen bei ecm-records, Anthologien “Komposition als Inszenierung” (2002) , "Ästhetik der Abwesenheit" (2012). Zahlreiche Internationale Hörspiel-, Theater- und Musikpreise (Prix Italia, Europäischer Theaterpreis, International Ibsen Award u.v.a.).

Composer in residence beim Lucerne Festival; Artist in residence, Cornell University, Ithaca. Mitglied mehrerer Akademien der Künste, Honorable Fellow des Dartington College of Arts und der Central School of Speech and Drama, London; Fellow am Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2007/08). Honorable Doctorade Birmingham City University und National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts, Sofia.

1999-2018 Professor am Institut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft der Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen; 2006-2018 Präsident der Hessischen Theaterakademie.

Intendant der Ruhrtriennale – International Festival of the Arts 2012–2014.

Von 2018 bis 2024 wurde er vom Präsidenten der Justus Liebig Universität zum ersten Inhaber der Georg-Büchner-Professur berufen.