Klaus Ager was born in Salzburg in 1946. He studied music at the Mozarteum and at the University of Salzburg, as well as at the Conservatoire National et Superieur in Paris under Olivier Messiaen and Pierre Schaeffer.
From 1975 - 1986 Ager was the artistic director of the Austrian Ensemble for Contemporary Music and gave numerous concerts in Austria and abroad. Since 1977 he has been artistic director of the Salzburg festival Aspekte. In 1954 he founded the Aspekte new music ensemble, touring in Europe and overseas (Italy, Latvia, Brazil and Austria). He then went on to work as assistant for music theory at the University of Music and the Performing Arts Mozarteum from 1973 - 1979; as professor for composition at the conservatory in Bregenz, Vorarlberg, from 1978 -1986; and, from 1986 on, as professor of musical analysis at the Mozarteum. There, Ager was appointed Deputy University Principal from 1991 - 1995, before taking over as Principal from 1995 - 2000. Since 2004 he has held the post of president of the Austrian Composer’s Association.
Over the past few years, his activities as guest composer and lecturer have increased at various North and South American universities, as well as at institutions in China, Taiwan and Japan. As a composer, he is particularly known for his chamber and orchestral music, as well as electronic and computer music. Ager’s music has been performed at the most important festivals for contemporary music worldwide.
Numerous works are available on records or CDs (Hoshi for wind quintet; Atacama for solo guitar; Alinkonie for various sound generators; wind um ein grab; CLB512; sondern die sterne sinds; Gesang zur Nacht; serenade for piano and orchestra; La regle du jeu etc.)
"Why does a living composer write a fragment? Here we can see one possible reason: my first idea for a piece for the Gunnar Berg Ensemble was to write eleven short movements. After finishing the first movement it was noticeable that on its own it was already quite long: so eleven movements would result in a piece of a duration of at least one hour. I therefore decided to shorten the project to 5 movements and after finishing the third part – which has some quotations that link to the first movement – I was convinced that the piece made sense with just these three movements. I decided not to continue the sketches for a fourth and fifth movement.
All three pieces refer to Alexander Scriabin in one particular way; all titles of the three movements are taken from Scriabin’s piano music. The first piece is “ lent, avec douceur” the second “avec une ardeur profonde et voile” and the third “modéré, très doux et pur”. The first movement is full of quotations from the 10 Piano Sonatas of Scriabin (mainly the late Sonatas). Some of the quotations are exact note for note quotations and others with some variations. Hence, the last 8 bars of the first movement quote the end of the 10th Sonata note for note with some alterations. A Trill is added to the flute and violoncello part and some of the notes are transposed an octave higher. In any case, since the instrumentation sounds quite different, the fact that the end of this piece is the same as in the 10th Piano Sonata is not immediately evident.
The second movement is a four-part canon between Flute and Violoncello, with a sort of ostinato accompaniment on the Guitar and a Coda where flute and Violoncello join the Guitar. The four parts of the canon reflect the classic possibilities of canonic writing: normal canon, canon in inversion, canon in retrograde motion and Canon in retrograde inversion.
The third movement is in the manor of a song on the flute with an accompaniment on the Guitar and (close to the end) the Cello. This third movement includes quite a long quotation from a previous piece of mine for flute, guitar, percussion and mezzo-soprano based on poems of Georg Trakl “dem schweigenden Antlitz der Nacht” (“to the silent image of night”). This was also quoted in the first movement."