Wolfgang Mitterer was born in 1958 in Lienz, East Tyrol, and studied organ, composition and electroacoustics in Graz, Vienna and Stockholm. After a scholarship stay in Rome in 1988, he played in bands such as Hirn mit Ei, Call Boys Inc, Pat Brothers, Dirty Tones and Matador, as well as with Linda Sharrock, Gunter Schneider, Wolfgang Reisinger, Klaus Dickbauer, Hōzan Yamamoto, Tscho Theissing and Tom Cora, among others.
Wolfgang Mitterer is one of Austria’s most important contemporary composers and has established himself as a specialist in electroacoustic music. His work oscillates between composition and open form. In addition to music for organ and orchestra, a piano concerto, and the opera Massacre, which premiered at the Vienna Festival in 2003, he produces sound installations and has participated in collaborative improvisations with various groups. He performs regularly as a soloist and in ensembles at international festivals.
Mitterer’s œuvre includes commissioned works – among others for steirischer herbst, Wien Modern, Klangforum Wien (coloured noise, brachialsinfonie for 23 musicians and electronics, 2005), Klangspuren Schwaz, Wiener Konzerthaus, ORF, WDR and SRG, and most recently for the 350th anniversary of the University of Innsbruck -, music commissions for theater productions, such as for Sven-Eric Bechtolf’s Richard II. (2009) at the Thalia Theater Hamburg and Andrea Breth’s productions of Bernard-Marie Koltès’ Quai West (2010) and Shakespeare’s Hamlet (2013) at the Burgtheater in Vienna.
In 2005 Crushrooms (libretto: Albert Ostermaier) premiered at Theater Basel, and in 2016 the opera Marta (libretto: Gerhild Steinbuch) premiered at Opéra de Lille. In 2019, the Austrian feature film Die Kinder der Toten (The Children of the Dead), based on the novel of the same name by Elfriede Jelinek and featuring Mitterer’s score, premiered at the Berlinale and was awarded a FIPRESCI prize. In 2020, the world premiere of his setting of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s silent film Phantom took place at the Vienna Konzerthaus.
Wolfgang Mitterer has received numerous awards for his work as a musician and composer, including the Prix Ars Electronica, the Max Brand Prize, the Prix Futura Berlin, the Emil Berlanda Prize, the Prize of the City of Vienna for Music, the Austrian Art Prize for Music (2014), and the Austrian Film Prize for “Best Music” in 2018 for Untitled (directed by Michael Glawogger /Monika Willis) and in 2020 for The Children of the Dead (directed by Pavol Liska/Kelly Copper).
As a lecturer, Wolfgang Mitterer has been active at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna and at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, among others; he has also been a member of the supervisory board of austro mechana.
In 2001 he was a guest at the Salzburg Festival for the first time in the series Zeitfluß, and since 2018 he has been responsible for the composition of Jedermann.