Profile

Lera Auerbach, the Russian-American poet, composer, writer, visual artist and concert pianist who performs regularly in major halls throughout the world, has published more than 100 works for orchestra, opera and ballet, as well as choral and chamber music. Auerbach was born in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on the border of Siberia. As pianist and composer, she graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School in New York and received her post-graduate degree as a concert pianist from the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media in Germany.

Her compositions are performed worldwide by leading musicians, including violinists Gidon Kremer, Leonidas Kavakos, Vadim Gluzman, Hilary Hahn, Vadim Repin, Daniel Hope, Julian Rachlin, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Dmitry Sitkovetsky; violists Kim Kashkashian and David Aaron Carpenter; cellists Alisa Weilerstein, Gautier Capuçon and David Geringas; and singers Zoryana Kushpler, Natalia Ushakova, Martin Winkler, Nikita Storojev and Stella Grigorian, among many others. Auerbach has written eight string quartets that have been championed by the Tokyo, Borromeo, Parker, Jasper, Ying, Peterson, Artemis, Granados and RTÉ Vanbrugh string quartets. Auerbach's works for orchestra are performed by the world’s leading conductors, including Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Vladimir Spivakov, Neeme Järvi, Vladimir Jurowski, Charles Dutoit, Andris Nelsons, Andras Keller and Osmo Vänskä. Choreographers and stage directors such as John Neumeier, Aszure Barton, Goyo Montero, Terence Kohler, Sol León, Paul Lightfoot, Medhi Walerski, Reginaldo Oliveira, Christine Milietz, and John La Bouchardiere have staged Auerbach’s ballets and operas, which have been produced in theaters on every continent, including the Hamburg State Opera, Vienna’s Theater an der Wien, New York's Lincoln Center, the National Ballet of Canada, the National Ballet of China,the Royal Danish Theater, the Nuremberg State Theater, the Finnish National Theater, Moscow’s Stanislavsky Theater, the Netherlands Dance Theatre, the San Francisco Ballet and numerous others. Auerbach has been composer-in-residence with various orchestras and music festivals, including the Staatskapelle Dresden (Germany), São Paulo Symphony (Brazil), Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa (Japan), Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), New Century Chamber Orchestra (USA), Verbier Festival (Switzerland), Trondheim Festival (Norway), Marlboro Festival (USA), MusikFest Bremen (Germany), Lockenhaus Festival (Austria) and Pacific Music Festival (Japan).

CD and DVD releases of Auerbach's works are available on the Deutsche Grammophon, ECM, ARTE, PBS, BIS, Capriccio and Cedille labels.

Auerbach is equally prolific in literature and has published three books of poetry in Russian. Gerard Depardieu, Sergei Yursky and Evgeny Kissin have been reciting her poems in performances; Sergei Yursky also recorded a poetry CD from her book, Stairs to Eternity, and has written the foreword for her Hanover Notebook. Auerbach’s poetry and prose is included in various anthologies, as well as in the textbook of required reading for Russian highschool literature classes. Doctor of philological sciences Vyacheslav Okeansky published his thesis on her poetry: “Lunar Mysteria in Poetry of Lera Auerbach—Esoteric Hermeneutics of Parting from Childhood.” In 1996, the International Pushkin Society in New York named her Poet of the Year. She is the author of several librettos and is a regular contributor to the Best American Poetry blog. In her first English-language book, Excess of Being, published by Arch Street Press in 2015, she revitalizes the form of aphorisms. Her writing is provocative, dark, ironic and humorous, perceptively dealing with life’s kaleidoscopic questions. Auerbach often gives poetry readings (in Russian and English), presentations and talks, as well as master classes in various venues, including Harvard University, University of Michigan, Cleveland Institute, Open Society Institute in New York, Tokyo University, World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Music Center of Budapest, Hungary and the poetry festival of West Cork, Ireland, as well as festivals in Verbier, Aspen, Marlboro, Sapporo and others.

Auerbach has been drawing and sketching all her life as part of her creative process. In 2009, after a devastating fire destroyed her studio in New York, she started prolifically painting and sculpting. Her art has been included in several exhibitions and, in 2013, she had her first solo exhibition in Norway. Her paintings are included in private collections, sold in auctions, reproduced in magazines, and used on the covers of CDs and books.

Auerbach’s opera, Gogol, for which she wrote both the libretto and music, received its highly acclaimed world premiere in Vienna in 2011. Two of her oil paintings, related to this opera, were sold in the Gogol exhibition held in Moscow that year. Her groundbreaking acappella opera, The Blind, has received productions in Germany, Norway, Russia, the United States and Austria. Auerbach's ballet, The Little Mermaid, was the winner of a 2012 ECHO Klassik award for Best Music DVD. It also received two Golden Mask awards and has been performed over 250 times worldwide. Auerbach’s first collaboration with choreographer John Neumeier, the ballet Préludes CV, was recently revived to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Hamburg Ballet. In 2014, on a commission by the Hamburg State Theater and the Stanislavsky Theater, Auerbach composed a two-act ballet, Tatiana, after Pushkin's Evgeny Onegin. Auerbach has also collaborated with the Netherlands Dance Theatre and its choreographers Sol León and Paul Lightfoot on Shine a Light; with Goyo Montero on Don Juan and Faust for the Staatstheater Nürnberg; with Azure Barton on Watch Her for the National Ballet of Canada; with Tim Plegge on Momo and Reginaldo Oliveira on Mythos for the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe; and with Terence Kohler on four ballets: Heroes for the Munich State Ballet, Take Your Time for the Chinese National Ballet, 11:11 for the Flanders National Ballet and Cinderella for the Finnish National Ballet.

Other recent highlights include Auerbach's oratorio, In Praise of Peace, commissioned for the 20th anniversary of the Verbier Festival, the multilingual Requiem—Ode to Peace for the Staatskapelle Dresden, the string symphony Memoria de la Luz, her vast Russian Requiem, two violin concertos, a double concerto for violin, piano and orchestra, Symphonies Nos. 1 (Chimera) and 2 (Requiem for a Poet), Gallows Songs for chorus and saxophone quartet, and several symphonic poems: Post silentium, Eterniday and Dreams and Whispers of Poseidon. Auerbach has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Hindemith Prize, the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, the German National Radioprize and the ECHO Klassik award, among others.The World Economic Forum selected Auerbach in 2007 as a Young Global Leader and in 2014 as a Cultural Leader, inviting her to give presentations and discussions on the fascinating topic of borderless creativity.