Albert Breier

Composer and Writer

Deutsche Version


Born in 1961 at Sennelager near Paderborn in Westphalia. From an early age piano lessons and first essays in composition. 1979-1987 student years in Cologne, Hamburg, Lübeck and Vienna: composition, piano (with Roland Keller), philosophy, musicology. 1984 at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse, strong impression of the music of Morton Feldman. 1987/1988 in a village near Cologne for one year; with the Second String Quartet, written in memory of Feldman, beginning of a new period of compositional activity.

In the following years, an extensive study of classical Chinese landscape painting grows out of the experience of a thorough artistic crisis. Subsequently more far-reaching reflections on cultural theory, resumed in the book publication Die Zeit des Sehens und der Raum des Hörens. Ein Versuch über chinesische Malerei und europäische Musik (Stuttgart–Weimar: Metzler 2002).

Move to Berlin in 1993. Many chamber works; appearances as pianist with own music, works by Feldman and Ives (Concord Sonata), as well as with compositions of the 16th and 17th centuries (Byrd, Gibbons, Froberger). Publications of CDs (among others with a transcription for solo piano of the first movement of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony). Study of the vocal polyphony of the 15th century and of the musical traditions of Russia and Georgia. From 1998 development and practical testing of a new kind of musical notation.

Move to Potsdam in 2001. Activities as essayist and critic. Lectures; teaching at the Universität der Künste Berlin. Large vocal works: Requiem for twelve-part chorus a cappella; Mass for twenty-four-part chorus a cappella. Work on two projects for books: on German poetry of the first part of the 20th century and on the relation between mathematics and ethics.

2002 beginning of work on a cycle of three large-scale orchestral pieces, titled Large Landscapes I-III (as yet the first and third piece completed). Summer 2010 co-initiator and -organiser of a series of symposiums and concerts relating to Jakob Ullmann’s book Logos agraphos – Die Entdeckung des Tones in der Musik at the monastery of Wettenhausen in Bavaria. From 2011 each year lecturer in composition at the festival Forfest at Kroměříž / Czech Republic.

2013 scholarship at the German Academy Villa Massimo at Casa Baldi. 2014 publication of two books: Zahl und Moral. Ein Entwurf (Wien: Passagen Verlag) and Walter Zimmermann. Nomade in den Zeiten (Hofheim: Wolke Verlag).