Composer Matthias Krüger was born in Ulm and grew up in Brussels and Trier. He studied music composition at Cologne’s Hochschule für Musik und Tanz, at Columbia University in New York City, as well as French language in Cologne and Sorbonne University in Paris. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Hamburg's University of Music and Theatre, spending the upcoming year at the Cursus for Composition and Computer Music at the IRCAM in Paris. His principal composition teachers include Krzysztof Meyer, Fabien Lévy and Johannes Schöllhorn. He attended festivals such as the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music 2010 and impuls Academy 2011 in Graz and drawn inspiration from master classes and personal encounters with composers like Hans Abrahamsen, Mark André, Georges Aperghis, Chaya Czernowin, Georg Friedrich Haas, José-María Sánchez-Verdú and Vladimir Tarnopolski as well as the Composition Seminar of New York University with Nils Vigeland.
He has received numerous awards and scholarships, including from DAAD, the German National Academic Foundation, Berlin’s Mendelssohn competition in 2013, Cologne's B.A. Zimmermann award in 2015, the Chevillion-Bonnaud composition prize of the 12th Orléans International Piano Competition in 2016 as well as a nomination for the 2018 Gaudeamus Award (Utrecht, NL) and repeated nominations for the Young Artists' Promotion Award of Northrhine-Westphalia (D). Supported by the Arts Foundation of Northrhine-Westphalia he spent the Fall of 2015 as an Artist-in-Residence in Istanbul/Turkey and travelled to Aotearoa-New Zealand in 2018 on a two-month research grant to gain a deeper insight into kaupapa Māori, kapa haka and taonga puoro. Between 2014 and 2018 he worked part-time at the Institute of Musicology of Bonn University (D). Among other residencies, he spent the summer of 2020 at a three-months residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.
His musical interests revolve primarily around the in-between of the abstract magic of sonic structures and the concrete confrontation with one’s own body, yearnings and obsessions; it focuses on the musician as a human being who is confronted with their personal limits and uncertainties, working their way through them in constant, not least physical agitation in an ever-lasting quest for identity and redemption.
He received commissions from WDR (Musik der Zeit), Westfalen Classics 2017, NewTalents Biennale Cologne 2014, and Young Euro Classic Berlin 2013, among others, as well as from soloists Xavier Larsson Paez (saxophone), Claudia Chan (piano) and Krisztián Palágyi (accordion). Matthias' music has been performed by the Klangforum Wien, the WDR Symphony Orchestra, ensemble Recherche, ensemble Aventure (Freiburg both), ensemble ascolta (Stuttgart), ensemble inverspace (Basel, CH), Ma'alot wind quintet, ensemble hand werk, mam.manufaktur für aktuelle musik, Ensemble BRuCH , Fukio Ensemble (all Cologne), IEMA ensemble (Frankfurt), Slagwerk Den Haag and Oerknal (both The Hague), PluralEnsemble (Madrid), and Meitar Ensemble (Tel Aviv), as well as soloists like Werner Dickel, Neus Estarellas Calderón, Patrick Stadler and Imri Talgam, among others, in Austria, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the US, Canada, China and Japan, as part of festivals such as ECLAT Stuttgart, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Kasseler Musiktage, Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Utrecht), Festival de Royaumont, Nuova Consonanza (Rome), Shanghai New Music Week, Northwestern University New Music Conference, and Mallorca Saxophone Festival, and in venues such as Konzerthaus Berlin, WDR Funkhaus Cologne, Palau de la Música Catalana Barcelona, and Carnegie Hall New York.
Furthermore his music has been featured on German radio stations such as Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandradio Kultur, Deutschlandradio Kultur, HR 2, SWR 2, WDR 3 and KölnCampus. In June 2018 Deutschlandfunk has dedicated a portrait feature about his music.
In January 2017 his composition LAL (First Draft) has been released on ensemble hand werk's first album "Kurzwelle".
In October 2021 the CD label WERGO released his portrait CD ᴀɪɴ·ᴛ ɴᴜᴛʜɪɴ· ʙᴜᴛ ғᴀɪʀʏ ᴅᴜsᴛ as part of the series "Edition Zeitgenössische Musik/Podium Gegenwart". The CD was longlisted in January 2022 for the German Record Critics' Award.
His scores are available through Babelscores Paris.
He is currently based between Cologne and Paris where he works as a composer.
— Recordings and scores for the pieces are available following the icons underneath the respective paragraph. —
„A CD for the adventurous listener. These recent electroacoustic works by Matthias Kruger are very absorbing. Drawing on a range of techniques, traditions and technology there is great crossover between styles and genres, signifying the great freedom and wealth of experience that today’s composers enjoy.“ (Lark Reviews, November 23, 2021)
„In Matthias Krüger's "Die freye Lust" [Léo Maurel's instrument] indeed becomes an aggressive noise-making machine, along with the rumbling of timpani and electronic beats. If one sticks to the association of outer space, it is now rather a war of the stars arising in front of the inner eye: planets collide, spaceships explode, black holes implode. In addition, the air-powered melodica: it sounds like an old harmonium at a funeral. At some point, the air is switched off, and it exhales its last note.“ (Elke Kamprad in Badische Zeitung, 12/01/2021; Transl.: M.K.)
„Matthias Krüger is a committed risktaker. Extremely imaginative and curious. Not afraid to go the distance with an idea that “may or may not work”. This willingness to explore is convincing and draws the listener in.“ (Jury: Mayke Nas, Nicole Lizée and Richard Ayres, September 2018)
„The intense physical energy of Matthias Krüger's quintet, fueled by its insistent pitches, amplitudes, repetitions, and high-speed dramaturgies, also challenged its listeners. Habits have thus not only the ability to make life more manageable and comfortable, but can also be the entry to hell.“ (Sylvia Systermans on Deutschlandfunk [German public broadcasting], 05/28/2017; Transl.: M.K./Thierry Tidrow)
"...at least as freaky as Matthias Kruger's finale "Le vide à perdre" for electronics, surround sound, prepared wind instruments, and a whole lot of percussion: like the “Grand Wazoo" of the 21st century, it borders on the threshold of pain and crawls with life. With almost feverish eyes and visibly happy to finally be able to hear his composition the way (Ensemble ascolta performing dedicatedly under the baton of Nicholas Kok) he had once imagined it, Krüger cranked the controls at the mixing desk all the way up to the max. Eclat is a festival that lives and thrives on such moments. It enables the proximity between the artists and the audience. There are no trenches." (Mirko Weber, Stuttgarter Zeitung, 02/06/017; Transl.: M.K./Thierry Tidrow)
"... like a sound massacre: a shrill and distorted electro inferno." (Otto Paul Burkhard in Südwest Presse, 02/07/2017, Transl.: M.K./Thierry Tidrow)
"... a sometimes almost paradoxical listening experience. A new sound space opens up and, very surprisingly, is immediately drawn into the increasingly obsessive soundscape. The same happens in the vocal part, which also features overtone singing. However, Krüger's musical actions do not carry their meaning within themselves; rather, the musical discourse is characterized by a compulsive obsessiveness which blusters into extreme panic. It is inherently inspired by the text, the opening chapter of Gustav Meyrink's novel The Golem, published in 1913, a classic of fantastic literature." (Ingo Dorfmüller on Deutschlandfunk [German public broadcasting], 07/22/2017; Transl.: M.K./Thierry Tidrow)
"Thus the recital opened with Matthias Krüger’s renk, a work that is rather a visual than a sonic performance, judging from how much the pianist’s body—in this case Claudia Chan—is being solicited in a such an unusual way: fingernails, palm of the hand, wrist, forearm; all are deployed on the keyboard, as well as underneath and even on top of the instrument without necessarily always pressing the keys all the way down. The effect is spectacular, and invites us to consider the piano through all of its constituents, beyond the traditional keyboard." (Isabelle Stibbe in La Terrasse, 03/22/2017, Transl.: M.K./Thierry Tidrow)
"Matthias Krüger came up with the idea for this composition in Istanbul. There, he had observed street musicians and was inspired by the foreign sounds and the constant interplay between musicians. The sound fields in his music therefore change accordingly. Krüger starts out with an impulsive drum solo. This is followed by a section in which the flute dominates. The music acquires an exotic character through microtonal variations, as they occur in oriental music, and through the use of the tulum, a Turkish form of bagpipes. Krüger challenges the musicians' sound sensitivity. The instrumentalists capture the fragile microtonal fluctuations with subtlety, easily intoning the melodic motifs’ filigree ornamentations. They play Kruger's composition with an improvisational fashion that makes the piece seem very much alive." (Hanno Ehrler on Deutschlandfunk [German public broadcasting], 07/31/2017; Transl.: M.K./Thierry Tidrow)
"... oriental sound patterns with an anarchistic and theatrical attitude." (Bastian Tebarth in StadtRevue, 07/2017)
"At the Kunststation St. Peter, Matthias Krüger conjured up tender soundscapes. A wild and impressively contrasting Alphorn solo roared and screeched like both a ship's horn and a free jazz trumpet. The watch hands of music history are still ticking onwards." (Rainer Nonnenmann in Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, 05/26/2014; Transl.: M.K./Thierry Tidrow)