© Katrin Schilling

Ensemble Modern

Since its founding in 1980, Ensemble Modern (EM) has been among the leading New Music ensembles. It currently unites around 20 soloists from Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Japan, the USA and Switzerland, illustrating the culturally diverse background of the ensemble. Resident in Frankfurt am Main, the ensemble is known for its unique democratic organisation and working method. Artistic projects, partnerships and financial matters are decided and implemented jointly. Its unique and distinctive programming includes musical theatre works, dance and video projects, chamber music, ensemble and orchestral concerts. Tours and guest appearances have taken it to the most renowned festivals and distinguished performance venues, such as the Berliner Festspiele, Bregenzer Festspiele, Cité de la Musique, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Festival d'Automne à Paris, Hellerau Dresden, Holland Festival, Klangspuren Schwaz, Konzerthaus Berlin, Kölner Philharmonie, Kunstfestspiele Herrenhausen, musica viva / Bayerischer Rundfunk, Ruhrtriennale, Salzburger Festspiele, Wien Modern and Wigmore Hall London.

In its hometown, Ensemble Modern has had its own subscription series at the Alte Oper Frankfurt since 1985. It regularly produces musical theatre works in cooperation with the Frankfurt Opera, as well as a series of workshop concerts entitled ›Happy New Ears‹. Since 2011 Ensemble Modern has joined the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in presenting the festival ›cresc... Biennial for Current Music Frankfurt Rhine Main‹. Further cooperations and projects round out the multi-faceted profile of Ensemble Modern. The ensemble strives to achieve the highest possible degree of authenticity by working closely with the composers themselves. The musicians rehearse an average of 70 new works every year, 20 of which are world premieres.

Its work is characterised by extraordinary and often long-term cooperative ventures with renowned artists, such as John Adams, Mark Andre, George Benjamin, Peter Eötvös, Brian Ferneyhough, Heiner Goebbels, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, György Ligeti, Olga Neuwirth, Enno Poppe, Rebecca Saunders, Simon Steen-Andersen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich, Frank Zappa or Vito Žuraj, as well as outstanding artist personalities from other artistic genres.

In addition to its multi-faceted concert activities, Ensemble Modern presents the results of its work through regular recordings, many of which have won multiple awards. Almost 50 of the more than 150 CD productions have been released by the ensemble’s own label, Ensemble Modern Media.

In 2003 Ensemble Modern bundled its existing education and further education projects under one roof, founding the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA) with the goal of passing on the musical heritage of modernism. IEMA’s formats developed especially for specific target groups include the Master’s Degree Programme in contemporary music for young professional musicians in cooperation with the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts as well as international master courses, composition seminars and school projects. All these pursue the goal of educating a broad public about a great variety of contemporary musical tendencies and an open, creative approach to artistic processes.

Ensemble Modern is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the City of Frankfurt, the German Ensemble Academy, the Hessen State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts. hr2-kultur is Ensemble Modern’s cultural affairs partner.


  • The Frankfurt LAB – the laboratory for modern music, theatre and dance for Frankfurt RhineMain is founded. In addition to Ensemble Modern, the founding partners include the Hessian Theatre Academy, the Frankfurt am Main Academy of Music and the Performing Arts, the artists’ residence Mousonturm and the Forsythe Company.
  • Resumption of ›Phädra‹, the concert opera by Hans Werner Henze in Berlin (Staatsoper Unter den Linden) and in Cologne
  • ›Reich meets Richter‹: Encounter of Steve Reich and Gerhard Richter at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne and the Kölner Philharmonie with ›Drumming – Part One‹ and ›Music for 18 Musicians‹ further performances of Pascal Dusapin's opera ›Passion‹ in Paris and Amsterdam
  • Elliott Carter's 100th birthday: German premiere of ›Duettino für Violine und Violoncello‹ in Frankfurt a.M.
  • ›into Johannesburg‹. Compositional approaches to Johannesburg. Premieres of Luke Bedford, Jörg Birkenkötter, Lars Peter Hagen, and Lucia Ronchetti in Berlin and Frankfurt a.M.
  • Premiere of José Maria Sánchez Verdú's ›Lux ex Tenebris‹ in Sevilla and Madrid
  • Invitation from Bibliotheca Alexandrina to perform twice during the first International Biennale for Contemporary Music in Alexandrina and Cairo
  • ›into Dubai‹ – compositional appproaches to Dubai: premieres of Jörg Widmann, Márton Illés, Markus Hechtle, and Vykintas Baltakas in Berlin and Frankfurt a.M.
  • Concerts at Salzburger Festspiele, Kontinent Varèse
  • Kurt Weill's ›Mahagonny Songspiel‹ and ›Die Sieben Todsünden‹ in Paris (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées)
  • Portrait concert of Pierre Boulez at Alte Oper Frankfurt a.M. (›Auftakt‹ series)
  • ›into Pearl River Delta‹ – compositional approaches to Pearl River Delta: Premieres of Unsuk Chin, David Fennessy, Heiner Goebbels, Benedict Mason, and Johannes Schöllhorn
  • Ensemble Modern and IEMA organize the first edition of the cultural project ›CultureDayYear‹ at schools in Frankfurt together with ALTANA Kulturstiftung and further cooperation partners.
  • The Internationale Ensemble Modern Akademie recieves the Praetorius Music Prize Lower Saxony in the category ›music innovation‹
  • The Siemens AG awarded the ›Kulturförderpreis 2009‹ for ›into...‹, a project of Ensemble Modern and Siemens Arts Program in collobaration with the Goethe-Institu