“Michael Hersch writes music of astounding, even thrilling, complexity; music that can be hard to grasp, yet impossible to let go of; and music of stark, unsettling, seemingly implausible beauty.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
Widely considered “one of the most fertile musical minds to emerge in the U.S. over the past generation,” (The Financial Times of London), Michael Hersch continues to compose music of tremendous power and invention. His work has been conducted in the U.S. and abroad by conductors including Mariss Jansons, Alan Gilbert, Yuri Temirkanov, Robert Spano, Marin Alsop, Giancarlo Guerrero, Carlos Kalmar, and James DePriest, and has been performed by the major orchestras of Cleveland, Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Seattle, Baltimore, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Oregon; domestic and international festivals including the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Chicago’s Grant Park, Germany’s Schloss Neuhardenberg and Italy’s Romaeuropa Festivals; and ensembles including the String Soloists of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, The Network for New Music, and the Blair String Quartet, among others.
He has written for such soloists as Garrick Ohlsson, Thomas Hampson, Midori, Boris Pergamenschikow, Shai Wosner, Walter Boeykens, Gary Louie, Michael Sachs, Daniel Gaisford and Miranda Cuckson. His solo and chamber works have appeared on programs throughout the world – from the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center in the U.S. and the Dartington New Music Festival in the U.K., to the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. Mr. Hersch recently composed a new work for Holland’s Ensemble Klang, and his evening-length monodrama, On the Threshold of Winter, scored for soprano and mixed ensemble. The opera, presented by the organization Nunc, premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in June 2014.
Also regarded among today’s most formidable pianists, Mr. Hersch has appeared on the Van Cliburn Foundation’s Modern at the Modern Series, the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., Cleveland’s Reinberger Hall at Severance Hall, the Festival of Contemporary Music Nuova Consonanza, the Warhol Museum, and in New York City’s 92nd St. Y – Tisch Center for the Performing Arts, Merkin Concert Hall, and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, among others. Alongside a live recording of his first NY performance in over a decade, a documentary film about Mr. Hersch’s life and work on the instrument, The Sudden Pianist, directed by Richard Anderson, was released in 2013.
His music increasingly recorded, Vanguard Classics is in the midst of an acclaimed survey of Mr. Hersch’s complete music for solo strings. This project comes several years after the landmark 2007 boxed-set release of Mr. Hersch’s, The Vanishing Pavilions, with the composer at the keyboard. Mr. Hersch’s second disc for the label, featuring the composer performing his own works in addition to those of Feldman, Rihm and Josquin, was selected by The Washington Post and New York Newsdayas among the most important recordings of 2004-05. That disc followed-up his debut recording, which features Mr. Hersch performing his Two Pieces for Piano and Recordatio, with additional performances of Mr. Hersch’s chamber works for strings by the String Soloists of the Berlin Philharmonic. In 2006, a recording of Mr. Hersch’s early orchestral works, including his Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2, was released on the Naxos American Classics series with Marin Alsop conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Hersch first came to international attention at age twenty-five, when he was awarded First Prize in the Concordia American Composers Awards. The award resulted in a performance of his Elegy, conducted by Marin Alsop in New York’s Alice Tully Hall in early 1997. Later that year he became one of the youngest recipients ever of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition. Mr. Hersch has also been the recipient of the Rome Prize, the Berlin Prize, and both the Charles Ives Scholarship and Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts & Letters.
Michael Hersch's works The Vanishing Pavilions, Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 for unaccompanied cello, and the wreckage of flowers