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Ensemble Modern is an international ensemble dedicated to performing and promoting the music of modern composers. Formed in 1980, the group is based in Frankfurt, Germany and made up variously of about twenty members from numerous countries.



Ensemble Modern was founded in 1980 by members of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie. From the beginning, the ensemble chose to organize itself democratically. There is no artistic director or chief conductor; instead, all projects, productions and financial matters are decided and supported by the musicians directly.[1][2] Currently, the ensemble combines 21 soloists from different backgrounds: Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States.[3]

Since 1985, Ensemble Modern has been based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. They offer a subscription series at the Alte Oper Frankfurt, host regular opera productions in cooperation with the Oper Frankfurt. Since 1993, the Opera has held the "Happy New Ears" workshop series in which composers are invited to present and discuss their works.[4] The programmatic scope of the ensemble includes music theater, chamber music, orchestral music, as well as dance and video projects. Over the years, Ensemble Modern has had significant collaborations with many composers, including John Adams, George Benjamin, Hans Zender, Peter Eötvös, Heiner Goebbels, Friedrich Goldmann, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, Helmut Lachenmann, György Kurtág, György Ligeti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich and Frank Zappa.

Each year, Ensemble Modern gives approximately 100 concerts and an average of 70 new works, including about 20 premieres. The ensemble was declared a "Leuchtturm" or "Beacon" of contemporary culture in Germany by the German Federal Cultural Foundation in 2003. Various tours have taken the group to Africa, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, South America, Taiwan, Russia and the United States. It is regularly represented at major festivals, including inter alia, the Salzburg Festival, Klangspuren Schwaz, the Berliner Festspiele, the Lucerne Festival, the Festival d'Automne à Paris and the Festival Ars Musica in Brussels.

In 2003, the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA) was founded. The Academy, in conjunction with the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts (HfMDK), offers a one-year master's degree to composers, conductors, instrumentalists, and sound engineers. Additionally, IEMA provides scholarships, master classes, and various outreach programs.[5]


Saar Berger (horn), Eva Böcker (cello), Jaan Bossier (clarinet), Paul Cannon (double bass), Uwe Dierksen (trombone), Christian Hommel (oboe), Megumi Kasakawa (viola), Michael M. Kasper (cello), Hermann Kretzschmar (piano), Jagdish Mistry (violin), Rumi Ogawa (drums), Norbert Ommer (sound director), Giorgos Panagiotidis (violin), Rainer Römer (drums), Johannes Schwarz (bassoon), Sava Stoianov (trumpet), Dietmar Wiesner (flute), Ueli Wiget (piano).[6]

Their current chief manager is Christian Fausch.[7]

Former members include Ingo Metzmacher (piano),[8] Peter Rundel (violin) and Frank Ollu (horn),[9] now prominent conductors.


Ensemble Modern is credited on over 100 recordings.[10] Notable examples include:


  • 1985: Prize of the French foreign minister on the occasion of the European Year of Music
  • 1987: Prize of the Critics of "Verband der Komponisten und Musikwissenschaftler der DDR" for excellent interpretation during the Music Biennale in Berlin
  • 1987: The German Record Critics' Award, Quarterly Critics' Choice 4/1987: Wolfgang Rihm - ›umsungen‹, Peter Ruzicka - ›...der die Gesänge zerschlug‹ (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Ernest Bour, conductor)
  • 1987: Schneider Schott-Musikpreis 1987, Mainz
  • 1989: Berlin Prize of the Critics of the "Verband deutscher Kritiker" in the category of music, awards ceremony at the Academy of the Arts
  • 1992: "Hessischer Kulturpreis" 1992 from the state of Hesse in the category "cultural mediation" for the interpretation of modern music
  • 1993: The German Record Critics' Award, Quarterly Critics' Choice 4/1993: György Kurtág - ›Song Cycles‹ (Ensemble Modern/Peter Eötvös)
  • 1993: Grammy nomination. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences nominates the CD "Ives: A Portrait of Charles Ives" of the Ensemble Modern and Ingo Metzmacher as the best orchestral recording
  • 1994: "Kunstpreis Berlin" – Jubiläumsstiftung 1848/1948
  • 1994: Förderpreis Musik, awards ceremony at the Academy of the Arts in Berlin
  • 1995: Stern der Woche, ABENDZEITUNG, for the week 19.-26. May 1995, Ensemble Modern under the direction of Peter Eötvös in the course of Dance 95 (Muffathalle, Munich)
  • 1996: 1st "Binding Culture Prize"
  • 1997: Grammy Nomination (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences) for best small ensemble performance for: "John Adams: Chamber Symphony/Shaker Loops/Phrygian Gates" (Sian Edwards, conductor)
  • 1997: ECHO: German Record Award. Ensemble of the year with the recording "Fighting the waves" of George Antheil under the direction of HK Gruber
  • 1998: Prize of the Spanish theatre critics "best foreign production" 1998 for ›Black on White‹ by Heiner Goebbels
  • 2000: The German Record Critics' Award - Quarterly Critics' Choice 1/2000: "Threepenny Opera" by Kurt Weill conducted by HK Gruber
  • 2000: 3rd prize of ›Scala‹ magazine in the category ›crossover vocal work‹
  • 2004: "ECHO Klassik": German Record Award, in the category "best ensemble / orchestra" and "best recording of chamber music" for the CD "Ensemble Modern plays Frank Zappa Greggery Peccary & Other Persuasions"
  • 2006: Awarded "Artist of the Year" at Beijing Music Festival
  • 2007: Winner of the Landmarks in the Land of Ideas, Germany, 2007.
  • 2009: The Internationale Ensemble Modern Akademie receives the Praetorius Music Prize Lower Saxony in the category "music innovation"
  • 2009: The Siemens AG awarded the ›Kulturförderpreis 2009‹ for "into…", a project of Ensemble Modern and Siemens Arts Program in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut
  • 2014: Grammy nomination (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences) for best classical instrumental solo for "Bartók, Eötvös & Ligeti" with Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin; Peter Eötvös, conductor (Ensemble Modern & Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra)[11]

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