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Cerha, Friedrich

vienna music contemporary conductor

Cerha, Friedrich, notable Austrian composer, conductor, and pedagogue; b. Vienna, Feb. 17, 1926. He began violin lessons at the age of six and began to compose when he was nine. He studied composition with Uhi and violin with Prihoda at the Vienna Academy of Music (1946–51), and also pursued training in musicology and philosophy at the Univ. of Vienna (Ph.D., 1950). In 1956 he attended the summer courses in new music in Darmstadt, and in 1957 he held a Rome fellowship. With Kurt Schwertsik, he founded the new music ensemble “die reihe” in Vienna in 1958, and remained associated with it for over 40 years. In 1959 he became a lecturer at the Vienna Academy of Music, where he served as a prof. from 1976 to 1988. From 1960 he was active as a conductor, becoming particularly known for his programming of contemporary works. In 1970–71 he was in Berlin on a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst fellowship. Cerha received the Prize of the City of Vienna in 1974 and was awarded the Great Austrian State Prize in 1986 for his contributions to music. In his large output, he has created scores notable for their innovative blending of traditional idioms and contemporary techniques. He also completed the third act of Berg’s unfinished opera Lulu (1962–78), which was first given in its finished version in Paris on Feb. 24, 1979.

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