Michael Jarrell

Swiss composer (Geneva, 1958 - )

Swiss composer internationally known, Michael Jarrel has seen his career rewarded with several prizes and his compositions played by the most prestigious phalanxes worldwide. His musical universe is directly connected to literature and visual arts. Michael Jarrell is not afraid to rework over and over a same object, a same idea to develop the musical material in an arborescent way.

Michael Jarrell was born in Geneva in 1958. He started his musical education in his natal city besides Eric Gaudibert and then went on to Fribourg where he studied composition with Klaus Huber and Brian Ferneyhough. Afterward he got an internship at the IRCAM from 1988 to 1986. Lodger at the Villa Medici, he became a resident composer at the Orchestre de Lyon for the 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 seasons.

He has won many prizes such as the prix Acanthes in 1983 for Assonance, the Beethovenpreis from the city of Bonn in 1986 for Trei II, the prize Gaudeamus in 1988 for Instantanés. In 2001, the Salzburg Festival put an order to Jarrell for a concerto for piano and orchestra called Abschied. He was a teacher for the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna before getting appointed in 2004 composition professor at the Superior Conservatoire of Geneva

His music is influenced by the art of Giacometti and Varèse. Michael Jarrell works on recurring patterns that develop as branches throughout his pieces as shown in some of his tracks such as Rhizomes. Besides learning the piano from a very young age, Michael Jarrel studied painting until an advanced stage. Therefore his compositions are sometimes inspired by visual occurrences like in his Assonance V where the solo cello is treated like an object projected on a background materialized by an instrumental ensemble.

Six landmark dates in the life of Michael Jarrell

1986: IT internship at IRCAM
1988: lodger at the  Villa Medicis until 1989
1993: taught at the Musikhochschule in Vienne until 1998
1996: resident composer at the Lucerne international music festival
2001: appointed Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
2004: appointed composition professor at the Superior Conservatoire of Geneva

Six pieces by Michael Jarrell

1994: Cassandre, monodrama for actress, instrumental and electronic ensemble
2005: Galilei, opera in twelve scenes, for thirteen soloists, choir and orchestra
2009: Staub - Assonance IIIb for seven musicians and video
2010: Le père, musical theatre for actor, soprano, mezzo, alto, 6 drums and electronic
2010: La chambre aux échos, for ensemble. Play composed for the Ensemble Intercontemporain at the occasion of Pierre Boulez 85th birthday
2012 Lied ohne Wort for violin, cello and piano. Order from Radio France

Official website Michael Jarrell

Radio France Documentation biography, December 2013