She is one of the most controversial artists in Austria.
As early as February 2000, Olga Neuwirth vehemently opposed the alliance between then Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Bowl (ÖVP) and the ultra-right FPÖ Jörg Haider.
At a large-scale demonstration in Vienna, she clairvoyantly pointed out the dangers threatening this dubious alliance.
In the meantime, this political taboo has led to the Ibiza affair of Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ) and to the resignation of ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP), who is suspected of manipulation.
In this respect, Neuwirth's publicly stated intention to "make the desolate state of society and politics visible" has a good reason.
The composer, born in Graz in 1968, is clever enough not to emphasize this attitude in her work.
The resistance can be felt in her works, but as a result of idiosyncratic compositional methods that elude academic categorization.
This is one of the reasons why the Board of Trustees of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation decided to award Neuwirth the 2022 Music Prize, which is endowed with 250,000 euros.
No less courageous is the decision to give three similarly independent young musicians sponsorship prizes, each endowed with 35,000 euros: the French composer and conductor Benjamin Attahir, the British composer Naomi Pinnock and the Basque composer Mikel Urquiza.
The means used by Olga Neuwirth are more drastic.
Not only does their music, which is characterized by dissociation processes, sometimes sound poisonous, caustic, biting, all kinds of monsters also populate their works: a glowing deep-sea monster in the ensemble piece “Vampyrotheone” or a white killer whale in “The Outcast” based on Herman Melville.
But human beasts also appear, as in the radio play "Death Rates" based on a text by Elfriede Jelinek.
The whimsical, garish aspect of Neuwirth's pieces always has a false bottom.
Because undoubtedly this music draws its grim humor from the despair of the madness of the world.
Not least because of this, Neuwirth uses bizarre electronic instruments such as the Ondes Martenot or the Theremin, whose whine is familiar from crime films.
In general, the cinematic element plays an essential role in the composer's work: it is music of constant transitions, with forward and backward movements, lush proliferation, cuts and surprising insertions, in which mostly non-classical material, often from folk or rock music, is used .
In this respect, Neuwirth's polystylistic opera "Orlando" (2019) based on Virginia Woolf can be described as an
summum , in which an elementary side of her political commitment becomes visible: as a feminist.
The fluid sexuality of her titular hero changes the perspective in that the androgynous Orlando reveals history as the progressive spread of patriarchal rule.
Today, more than ever, it is necessary to resist.Keywords: