About


Photo by Robert Huber
Oliver Waespi, born in Zurich in 1971, studied composition as well as conducting and film music at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Zurich and completed his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London and in masterclasses. His tutors include Simon Bainbridge, André Bellmont, Gerald Bennett, Sylvia Caduff, Peter Maxwell Davies, Brian Elias, Klaus Huber, Mark Kissoczy, Andreas Nick and Alfred Reed. Oliver Waespi’s music is performed by symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists, choirs and numerous symphonic wind orchestras and brass bands all around the world. Works by Oliver Waespi have been performed at the George Enescu Festival, the Gstaad Menuhin Festival, the BBC's Hear and Now concert series, Swiss National Band Conventions, WASBE World Conferences, WMCs, CBDNA Conferences, European Brass Band Festivals and numerous other festivals and concerts. In addition, he regularly conducts workshops, works as an adjudicator and teaches at the Bern University of the Arts.

Oliver Waespi pursues a wide range of musical interests, which leads him to composition projects in various areas. This also creates references to other art forms. Works such as "Volatile Gravity" for Jojo Mayer and the Basel Sinfonietta, "Viaduct" for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra or "Hypercube" for the Paris Brass Band can be heard as musical interpretations of urban landscapes and architectures. A project for the Ensemble TaG led to the combination of music with contemporary dance. Various pieces have references to poetry, such as "Flut" for the BBC Singers, "Nachtferne" for the Berne Chamber Orchestra, "Azur" for l'art pour l'Aar, "Weisser Atem" for the Brodsky string quartet, or "Ad Astra" for the Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain.

Some of Oliver Waespi’s works are reflections on folk music and early music. These include "As If A Voice Were in Them", "Traversada" or "Audivi Media Nocte". The latter piece brought him worldwide recognition among leading ensembles and reflects Waespi's approach of combining individual, groove-related rhythms with the spatiality of orchestral structures. Other examples in this line of thought are pieces such as the "Divertimento" for the Swiss Wind Band Convention, "Out of Earth" for the symphonic wind orchestra Aulos or "At the Crossroads", commissioned by the Jena Philharmonic and the Brass Band BlechKlang. Several solo concerts complete Oliver Waespi’s body of work, including concertos for guitar and flute, harp and piano, french horn, trombone, euphonium and tuba.

For his music, Oliver Waespi received numerous awards. These include the International George Enescu Composition Prize in 2003, the London Fellowship awarded by the Landis and Gyr Cultural Foundation in 2005/2006, a prize at the Uuno Klami Composing Competition in Finland in 2009, composition grants of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Dutch Eduard van Beinum Foundation, the Composition Prize of the Swiss Federation of Orchestras (EOV) in 2011, the NBA Revelli Award in the USA in 2013, the Stephan Jaeggi Prize in 2014 or the International BUMA Brass Award in the Netherlands in 2015.

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«... Eine organische Weiterentwicklung von Frank Zappas Versuchen einer vornehmlich spirituellen Verschmelzung von Klassik und Pop zum Beispiel in «Get Whitey» bot schliesslich Waespis Volatile Gravity – mit Jojo Mayer, einem der gegenwärtig begnadetsten Schweizer Perkussionisten, am Schlagzeug. Dem Komponisten gelang darin das Kunststück, eine übergeordnete klassische Architektonik zu schaffen, die ungezwungen Freiräume für Schlagzeugimprovisation lässt. Diese nutzte Mayer am Sonntag für beeindruckende, fulminante Soli, die sich zeitweise wie ein polyrhythmisches Sommergewitter anhörten.

Noch erstaunlicher als die Soli war aber die Tatsache, dass es das Orchester auf überzeugende Art und Weise schaffte, sich mit den verschiedenen Grooves Mayers zu synchronisieren. Die daraus resultierende Musik war geladen mit Energie, die das geistige, emotionale und körperliche Potenzial der aufeinandertreffenden Kräfte in sich stimmig vereinte. So macht Klassik und Pop Spass – und definitiv Lust auf (noch) mehr Abweichen von der Normalität.»
Lukas Nussbaumer, Basler Zeitung 28 June 2021
Oliver Waespi, Jojo Mayer, Baldur Brönnimann with Basel Sinfonietta
Photo by Zlatko Mićić / Basel Sinfonietta
«Zum umjubelten Ereignis des Abends wurde die Uraufführung des Auftragswerks „At the Crossroads“ des Schweizer Komponisten Oliver Waespi ….»
Dietmar Ebert, Ostthüringer Zeitung, 14. März 2015
Photo by Simon Schmid
«...Various controversies and tensions prevailed at the beginning between the soloists and the orchestra, but the slender-voiced flute and guitar won the orchestra over. The work ended in Baroque-like concerto grosso spirit, in dialogue conducted in perfect harmony, in a balance between fragile and strong. ...»
Hannu-Ilari Lampila, Helsingin Sanomat, 21. September 2009
Rehearsal with the Kymi Sinfonietta and conductor Yasuo Shinozaki at Kotka, Finland, Photo by Heikki T. Rissanen
«... In the years to come, Oliver Waespi’s ‚Audivi Media Nocte‘ may well be seen as a seminal work for brass band. It is a composition from an amazingly intelligent, febrile mind; an audacious concoction of conflicting musical imagery. … Musically, it is one of the most satisfying contemporary brass band pieces you are likely to ever hear. Oliver Waespi deserves all the plaudits that will surely come his way. His test piece has iconic status already written all over it. ...»
Iwan Fox, 4barsrest.com
At the Festival of Brass at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester GB, Photo by Ian Clowes
«Als Hauptereignis präsentierte das Ensemble TaG zum Schluss unter der Leitung von Steve Britt die Uraufführung von Oliver Waespis «Tanztheater». Die Komposition für zwei Tänzerinnen, Streichquartett, Flöte, Bassklarinette, Klavier und Perkussionsinstrumente bot gewissermassen die Zusammenfassung des ganzen Nachmittags. Aus Statischem entsteht hier Dynamisches, aus Amorphem rhythmisch durchpulste Tanzmusik. Die beiden Performerinnen Jacqueline Pasanisi und Tanja Büchel bewegten sich dazu auf der Bühne, als wären sie die zum Leben erweckten Statuen 'Maya' und 'Sitzender Akt'.»
Thomas Schacher, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 1. Juni 2010
Workshop at Palanga Concert Hall, Lithuainia, Photo by Deividas Kryževčius
«... The major work of the concert if not of the conference, opened the second half. Temples is Oliver Waespi's most recent work and shows a wonderful grasp of sonorities and control of structure. Over twenty minutes long, this is a symphonic work, which I think will prove to be a tremendous addition to the repertoire for the large symphonic band ...»
Timothy Reynish, WASBE-Newsletter September 2007
At the Casa da Musica Porto with José Vilaplana, Francisco Ferreira and the Banda Sinfonica Portuguesa
«...Weisser Atem by the Swiss composer Oliver Waespi (its title from Rose Auslanders poem White Breath) was more sustained, with astringent atonal clusters moving into and out of consonant chords. Supple melodic lines for each instrument symbolised humanity versus the vast icy glacier that inspired the work. It was fascinating to note how different was Waespi's response to a glacier from Maxwell Davies's Antarctic Symphony. Like short stories, these brief movements represented cutting edge explorations that affirmed the dynamic creativity of the quartet medium. ...»
Malcolm Miller, Musical Opinion, November/December 2008
Workshop at Vanderbilt University, Blair School of Music
«... This was quite incredible technical as well as musical playing — quite brilliant in fact. The florid ensemble playing was breathtaking, the solo playing of rare artistry ... Quite something that on quite something of a composition....»
Iwan Fox, 4barsrest.com
With Arsène Duc, conductor of the Valaisia Brass Band, after the premiere of "Other Lives" in Montreux CH
«"... Stimmungslandschaft in "Nachtferne" ... Oliver Waespi lässt über einem unwirklichen Klangstrom Einzelstimmen wie Traumbilder aufflackern und formt damit einen suggestiven Ideenkosmos, der sich an seiner eigenen Sinnlichkeit erhitzt und abkühlt - und nie ganz greifbar wird ..."»
Marianne Mühlemann, Der Bund, 8. Mai 2003
With Auli Kontinen, Flute, Petri Kumela, Guitar, and the Kymi Sinfonietta in Kotka (FIN), photo by Heikki T. Rissanen


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