Events & Tickets
SOUNDS OF THE TIMES: SYMPHONIC CABARET
New World Center, Michael Tilson Thomas Performance Hall
HK Gruber, conductor
Composer, conductor and chansonnier, HK Gruber was born in Vienna in 1943 and sang with the Vienna Boys’ Choir as a child, going on to study at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik. In 1961 he began playing double bass with Ensemble die reihe and from 1969 to 1998 in the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Gruber first began performing as a singer/actor with the ‘MOB art and tone ART’ ensemble, which he cofounded in 1968 with fellow Viennese composers Kurt Schwertsik and Otto Zykan. Composing in his own highly individual style, his music is performed internationally by the world’s leading artists and orchestras. Mr. Gruber was awarded Austria’s most prestigious cultural prize the 2002 Greater Austria State Prize, and in 2009 was announced as an Honorary Member of the Wiener Konzerthaus, following a great tradition of musicians to also receive this accolade, including Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez, Leonard Bernstein and Claudio Abbado. Mr. Gruber is an Honorary Lifetime Trustee of the Kurt Weill Foundation.
Mr. Gruber’s compositions have been written for and performed by the foremost orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and at Lucerne Festival, Carnegie Hall and BBC Proms. He is particularly noted for his concertos, including Aerial for trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, which has received over 60 performances; two for violinist Ernst Kovacic; the Cello Concerto written for Yo-Yo Ma and premiered at Tanglewood in 1989; Busking for trumpet, accordion, banjo and string orchestra, premiered by Hardenberger in 2008; and his percussion concertos Rough Music and into the open..., premiered by Colin Currie in 2015. Orchestral scores include Dancing in the Dark, premiered by the Vienna Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle in 2003. Mr. Gruber's recent works include the opera Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from the Vienna Woods) premiered at the Bregenz Festival in 2014 and a major new Piano Concerto for Emanuel Ax, co-commissioned by New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic.
An active conductor with many major international orchestras, highlights of Mr. Gruber’s conducting career include engagements with the Vienna Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was also Composer/Conductor with the BBC Philharmonic from 2009-15. Mr. Gruber has performed extensively as chansonnier, most notably in Frankenstein!!, his most popular work which he premiered with Sir Simon Rattle and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in 1978, which has received more than 600 performances around the world. He has also performed and recorded as chansonnier in the works of Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler as well as Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King.
Mr. Gruber was the 2019-20 Composer-in-Residence of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, with plans which included the world premiere of a new orchestral work Short Stories from the Vienna Woods, co-commissioned by the Gewandhaus and Boston Symphony Orchestra (both performances postponed). In Spring 2021 he conducted Kurt Weill’s Der Silbersee (The Silver Lake) at the Komische Oper and with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and Die sieben Todsünden (The Seven Deadly Sins) at the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau and (alongside his own Zeitfluren) with the SWR Symphony Orchestra in Freiburg.
On recent CD releases Mr. Gruber has conducted music by Brett Dean with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for BIS and works by Kurt Schwertsik with the BBC Philharmonic for Chandos. He has also recorded several of his own works for both labels.
The works of HK Gruber are published by Boosey & Hawkes.