Wien Modern 2022

picture of Red Room/Angelica Castello (c) Hostek Holfeld
Red Room/Angelica Castello (c) Hostek Holfeld

With 46 productions, 89 events, 48 female composers and 65 male composers, and 25 venues in 10 districts of Vienna, the 2022 edition of WIEN MODERN hits the ground running, stretching its fingers into spaces and corners of the city, while digging into complex and challenging thematic avenues. The festival begins October 29th and runs till November 30th. Read on to find out what the legendary international Viennese festival for contemporary and experimental music has to offer this year.

Wien Modern Festival Logo 2022

100 Attempts to Grapple with Complexity

Pandemic, war, climate change, inflation – right now, humanity has got its hands full with complexity, surprises, insecurities, overloads, misunderstandings and all things that in some way require explanation, patience and careful listening.

Wien Modern is known as one of the largest festivals for contemporary art music in the world – for a field of the Arts which has gained the reputation not to shy away from complexity since the beginnings of the Viennese School 120 years ago. This circumstance is simply taken as a given advantage for the 2022 festival programme. Because music, in all its current variety, is probably as unable to deny or to block out complexity as our planet is in the year 2022. The 35th edition of the festival presents, for that reason, 100 attempts to grapple with complexity.

This begins with good news: after two lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, this year we managed to find locations and dates for all postponed productions – from Mondrian Ensemble (30.10.) and Mark Barden / Ligia Lewis (04.–05.11.) to Fraufeld (09.11.) and Georg Baselitz (14.–17.11.) all the way to ceremony II by Georg Friedrich Haas (20.11.). And by the way – in case you needed proof that in music, the highest complexity doesn’t preclude floating lightness, then this simply sensational sound bath with 75 instruments from six centuries will provide. It can be experienced, on its third try, at the Museum of Art History.

A simple guide to complexity

Sometimes musicians transform, in almost magical ways, complexity into beauty. Here to explain how that works are exceptional trio Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Jean-Guihen Queyras & Mark Simpson (19.11.) as well as the Arditti Quartet (28.11.) with the help of selected favourite pieces.

The fact that the Vienna music scene has such a skillful approach to the New is partly thanks to the co-founder of Wien Modern, Lothar Knessl, who has recently passed away at 95 years old. That’s why the orchestra concert Lothar Knessl in memoriam (03.11.), presented with the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, ORF Ö1 Zeit-Ton and the Wiener Konzerthaus, is looking to the future – with new works by Angélica Castelló, Milica Djordjević, Matthias Kranebitter, Sara Glojnarić and Mirela Ivičević.

The 30-year-old Sara Glojnarić is also the focus of the Erste Bank Kompositionspreis with Klangforum Wien (17.11.). The Ensemble Recherche connects first and last works by old master Helmut Lachenmann with world premieres and first performances of Annesley Black and Kristine Tjøgersen (01.11.), while the SWR Vokalensemble connects prominent premieres of Georges Aperghis, Alberto Posadas and Martin Smolka (Future Memories, 25.11.).

Golnar Shahyar and Rojin Sharafi (c) David Almeida-Reibeiro
Golnar Shahyar and Rojin Sharafi (c) David Almeida-Reibeiro

A colourful array of formats and new venues

Heiner Goebbels’ “most mature and complete masterpiece”: A House of Call (Reinhard Brembeck, Süddeutsche Zeitung) will have its first performance in Austria on the 19th November as a co-commission of Wien Modern in the Volkstheater. The Schauspielhaus shows Angélica Castelló’s music theatre premiere Red Rooms (02.–06.11.), a kind of psychoanalysis of Red Riding Hood, the wolf and toxic family clans. The sirene Operntheater shows René Clemencic’s Kabbala in the Planetarium (31.10.–19.11.) and George Crumb’s Makrokosmos with kinetic installations and performances at the Jugendstiltheater am Steinhof (22.–27.11.).

Further scenic / spatial new productions are presented by Martina Claussen (Blackboxed Voices, 12.–13.11.), the Reaktor (Brauchen, 11.–12.11.) and Peter Jakober (Seitenraum, 17.–18.11.). Georg Friedrich Haas invites to his ceremony II as well as to spatial experiences at the MAK (Iguazú superior, 26.11.) and the Musikverein: The Claudio Abbado Concert (06.11.) begins with an auditory walk on the ground floor.

Ensemble PHACE presents two big premieres with video and live music: Stefano Gervasoni’s homage to Pasolini (In Nomine PPP, 23.11.) and Alberto Carrettero’s video opera on cycles of birth and rebirth at the beginning of a biotechnological revolution (Renacer, 27.11.). For young audiences, the brilliant New York quartet Yarn / Wire brings the interactive new production The Forest Concerts to Dschungel Wien (24.–27.11.)

Georg Friedrich Haas (c) Substantia Jones
Georg Friedrich Haas (c) Substantia Jones

Creativity for complex times

For the Opening Concert with the Wiener Symphoniker (29.10.), Sofia Gubaidulina and Matthias Pintscher show inspiring ingenuity in tough times. Olga Neuwirth, the 2022 recipient of the Ernst von Siemens Musikpreis, transforms her coronAtion series, conceived for streaming, into an immersive, hypnotic space-music experience in the former Otto Wagner Postal Bank building and at MAK (13.11.). 

Radical reduction can make for a great show for the ears; this is demonstrated by The  International Nothing  at the Closing Concert at Gartenbau-Kino (30.11.): with Just None of Those Things, the Berlin-based clarinet duo took all the time in the world from 2019 to 2021 to create extraordinary, satisfying precision, while chaos raged all around.

Speaking of chaos: The festival poster shows a recent radioastronomical image of our galaxy seen from earth: We live here. It’s not getting any simpler. Let’s make the best of it. Enjoy Wien Modern!

Olga Neuwirth (c) Rui-Camilo
Olga Neuwirth (c) Rui-Camilo


46 productions | 89 events| 48 female composers and 65 male composers | 25 venues in 10 districts of Vienna

57 world premieres of Georges Aperghis, Aleksandra Bajde / Isabella Forciniti, Mark Barden / Ligia Lewis, Tiziana Bertoncini / Caroline Mayerhofer, Annesley Black, Alberto Carretero, Angélica Castelló / Miguel Ángel Gaspar, Martina Claussen, Gloria Damijan, Milica Djordjević, Gobi Drab / Veronika Mayer, Hannes Dufek, Marin Escande, Viola Falb / Elisabeth Harnik, Sara Glojnarić, Helene Glüxam, Samu Gryllus, Georg Friedrich Haas, Viola Hammer, Elisabeth Harnik, Sophie Hassfurther, Nava Hemyari, Katrin Hornek / Judith Unterpertinger, Peter Jakober, Peter Jakober / Marco Döttlinger / Peter Kozek / Thomas Hörl, Jalalu Kalvert-Nelson, Matthias Kranebitter, Klaus Lang, Tim Mariën, Yoko Miura, Isabel Mundry, Olga Neuwirth, Marina Poleukhina, Alberto Posadas, Christof Ressi, Katharina Rosenberger, Susanne Schuda, Golnar Shahyar / Rojin Sharafi, Alexander Stankovski, Lukas Thöni, under the given circumstances / JUUN & Lale Rodgarkia-Dara, Nadir Vassena, Thomas Wally, Yvonne Zehner | 20 Austrian premieres of Angélica Castelló, Raphaël Cendo, Milica Djordjević, Beat Furrer, Bára Gisladóttir, Stefano Gervasoni, Heiner Goebbels, Georg Friedrich Haas, The International Nothing / Kai Fagaschinski & Michael Thieke, Matthias Kranebitter, Helmut Lachenmann, Svetlana Maraš, Hugo Morales Murguia, Matthias Pintscher, Iris ter Schiphorst, Wolfgang von Schweinitz, Martin Smolka, Kristine Tjøgersen, Øyvind Torvund, Thomas Wally | further works by Mark Andre, Maurizio Azzan, Carola Bauckholt, Pierluigi Billone, Elliott Carter, René Clemencic, Sivan Eldar, Morton Feldman, Brian Ferneyhough, Elisabeth Flunger, Beat Furrer, Clemens Gadenstätter, Sofia Gubaidulina, Martin Jaggi, György Kurtág, Dieter Kovačič, Helmut Lachenmann, Enno Poppe, Rebecca Saunders, Salvatore Sciarrino, Arnold Schönberg, Mark Simpson, Alexander Stankovski, Marco Stroppa, Daniela Terranova, Thomas Wally and many more.


For the full Wien Modern program 2022, go here.

Bernhard Günther (c) nafezrerhuf
Bernhard Günther (c) nafezrerhuf