Explore Bio

Chaya Czernowin
Astrid Ackerman

Chaya Czernowin


Chaya Czernowin was born and brought up in Israel. After her studies in Israel, at the age of 25, she continued studying in Germany (DAAD grant), the US, and then was invited to live in Japan (Asahi Shimbun Fellowship and American NEA grant) Tokyo, in Germany (at the Akademie Schloss Solitude) and in Vienna. Her music has been performed throughout the world, by some of the best performers of new music, and she has held a professorship at UCSD, and was the first woman to be appointed as a composition professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria (2006-2009), and at Harvard University in (2009 and on) where she has been the Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music. Together with Jean- Baptiste Jolly, the director of Akademie Schloss Solitude near Stuttgart and with composer Steven Kazuo Takasugi, she has founded the summer Academy at Schloss Solitude, a biannual course for composers. Takasugi and Czernowin also teach at Tzlil Meudcan, an International course based in Israel founded by Yaron Deutsch of Ensemble Nikel.

Czernowin’s output includes chamber and orchestral music, with and without electronics. Her works were played in most of the significant new music festival in Europe and also in Japan, Korea, Australia, North and South America. She composed two large scale works for the stage:Pnima…ins Innere (2000, Munich Biennale) which was chosen to be the best premiere of the year by Opernwelt yearly critic survey, and was awarded the Bayerischer Theater Preis, and Adama (2004/5) with Mozart’s Zaide (Salzburg Festival 2006). She was appointed Artist-in-residence at the Salzburg Festival in 2005/6 and Artist-in-residence at the Lucern Festival, Switzerland in 2013. Characteristic of her work are the use of metaphor as a means of reaching a sound world which is unfamiliar; the work with noise and physical parameters such as weight, textural surface (as in smoothness or roughness, etc.) to create sonic entities which “live” in a field where perspective and distance change; the inquiry and problematization of the nature of musical energy, musical time, and unfolding; and the shifting of scale and perspective. All these in an attempt of peeling away the layers of the familiar exposing something essential underneath, something which is not yet known.

In addition to numerous other prizes, Czernowin represented Israel at Uncesco composer’s Rostorum 1981; and was awarded the DAAD scholarship 1983-85; Stipendiumpreis (1988) and Kranichsteiner Musikpreis (1992), at the Darmstadt Fereinkurse; IRCAM (Paris) reading panel commission 1998; scholarships of SWR Experimental Studio Freiburg 1998/2000/2001; The composer’s prize of Siemens Foundation 2003; the Rockefeller Foundation, 2004; a nomination as a fellow to the Wissenschaftkolleg Berlin in 2008; Fromm Foundation Award 2009; and Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship 2011. She is published by Schott. Her music is recorded on Mode records NY, Wergo, Col Legno, Deutsche Gramophone, Neos, Ethos, Telos and Einstein Records. She lives near Boston, with composer Steven Kazuo Takasugi and their son.