MIchael obst



Obst_Michael_Foto_Guido_Werner (3)-01
Picture © Guido Werner
Photo © Guido Werner

Short bio

Michael Obst was born in Frankfurt in 1955. He studied  music education in Mainz and was awarded a Scholarship from the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes. He completed his subsequent piano studies with Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky in Cologne with Konzertexamen, followed by composition studies with H. U. Humpert. As a founding member of the Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt) he toured with them from from 1981-1991 as a pianist. As a composer, he initially focussed on electronic music and was invited work at renowned electronic music studios across Europe. His works have won numerous prizes at international composition competitions. His commissions include concert-length compositions for silent movies and music theater as well as vocal, orchestral and chamber music. In 1997 he was appointed professor of composition at the Music University Franz Liszt in Weimar, and he served as a guest professor from 2010 – 2013 at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.


  • Professor for Composition at the Music University FRANZ LISZT Weimar, Germany
  • Guest Professor for Composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria


  • Music Education Degree at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz (1973-1978)
  • Piano Studies with Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky at the Cologne Academy of Music (1977-1982)
    Post-Graduate Concert Examination Degree (1982)
  • Composition Studies with H. U. Humpert at the Studio for Electronic Music at the Cologne Academy of Music (1979-1986)

Photos 1 + 2 © Guido Werner 


  • Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt) – Pianist and founding member (1981-1991)
  • Performances with Karlheinz Stockhausen (1986-1989)
  • Invitations to renowned electronic music studios including Stockholm (EMS), Paris (IRCAM) and Freiburg (SWF-Strobelstiftung), as well as the trail-blazing Electronic Studio at the WDR in Cologne.

  • Continuous collaboration with renowned orchestras and ensembles for contemporary music

World Premieres and other landmark performances

  • 10 Years IRCAM Paris 1987: “Crystal World III” for ensemble on tape, commission IRCAM
  • Donaueschinger Musiktage 1987: “Crystal World III” for ensemble and tape
  • Donaueschinger Musiktage 1989: “Miroirs” for 6 vocalists, commission SWF
  • Donaueschinger Musiktage 1995: “Diaphonia” for soloists, orchestra and live-electronics, com. SWF
  • World Music Days (ISCM) Cologne 1987: “Chansons” for mezzo-soprano, 5 instruments, live-electronics and tape, commission WDR
  • Holland-Festival Amsterdam 1990: “Kristallwelt III” for ensemble and tape
  • 10 Years Ensemble Modern, Frankfurt 1990: “Nachtstücke” for 7 instruments + live-electronics
  • Présence ‘92 -jeunes compositeurs- Radio France, Paris: “Fresko” for 5 instruments, commission Radio France
  • Musik-Kino Philharmonie Cologne 1992: “Dr. Mabuse Part I”, music for the silent movie by Fritz Lang for ensemble, commission Philharmonie Cologne
  • CineMémoire, Paris 1993: “Dr. Mabuse Parts I+II”, for ensemble and live-electronics, commission [part II] IRCAM/EIC
  • Munich Biennale 1996: “Solaris” (première), chamber-opera, co-production with IRCAM/Paris and Munich, commission GEMA-Stiftung Munich
  • Musik-Triennale 1997 Cologne: “Shadow of a Doubt” for solo percussion and ensemble, commission Philharmonie Cologne
  • European Cultural City 1999 – Weimar: “Caroline”, opera, commission German National Theater Weimar
  • Bremer Theater 2003: „Solaris“, SD: Freo Meyer
  • Le Merveilleuse Festival 2003, Cité de la Musique, Paris: “Nosferatu” (Murnau), music for the silent movie for ensemble, commission Ensemble InterContemporain

NOSFERATU, music for the silent movie of F. Murnau.

  • Gewandhaus Leipzig 2006: “Espaces sonores” (première) for Wind Quintett and Orchestra, commission from the Radio/TV – Orchestra Leipzig (MDR)
  • MainFranken Theater Würzburg 2010: “Die andere Seite” (Kubin) (première), commission from the MainFranken Theater Würzburg
  • Bayerische Theaterakademie “August Everding” 2013, “Solaris” Chamber Opera, Stage Direction: Kovalik Balázs
  • Festival cresc…Biennale für moderne Musik, Frankfurt 2013, “Die Befristeten”, concertante radio play after the theatre piece of the same name by Elias Canetti
  • Landestheater Linz, September 2016, Austrian première “Solaris”, MD: Daniel Linton-France, SD: Hermann Schneider
  • Landestheater Linz, 27 May 2017, Austrian première “Die andere Seite”, MD: Dennis Russel Davies, SD: John Dew
  • Landestheater Linz, 21 May 2022, world première “Unter dem Gletscher”, MD: Ingmar Beck, SD: Hermann Schneider

Music is not a language, so it cannot be explained with the help of words. The mere explanation of musical events is almost impossible, because there are no adequate words to describe how music affects us and how we experience it. All attempts to this end remain superficial and are thus unsatisfactory.

MIchael Obst

Photo © Guido Werner

About Michael obst

Michael Obst is a composer, pianist, and teacher. He began his successful composing career with electronic music and subsequently composed works for music theater, film and concert halls. His experience as a pianist with the Ensemble Modern, enriched his understanding of contemporary music. After 25 fulfilling years of teaching, he is now excited to once again concentrate on his own composition projects.

Useful links

All works © Michael Obst.
Unauthorised reproduction is prohibited.