Born in 1939, Heinz Holliger began his musical studies at the conservatories of Berne and Basle, studying under Sandor Veress in composition from 1955 to 1959. In 1962-63, he came to study at the Paris conservatory with Émile Passagnaud and Pierre Pierlot (oboe) and Yvonne Lefébure (piano). From 1961-1963, he studied composition with Pierre Boulez in Basle.
Holliger won first prize in oboe in the international Geneva competition in 1959, and then the competition in Munich two years later. His career as a performer was successful from the beginning; he became one of the most renowned oboe performers, pushing the technical limits using new playing methods, giving rise to numerous works for oboe by composers such as Berio, Carter, Ferneyhough, Ligeti, Lutoslawski, Stockhausen, and others.
Beyond his activities as a soloist and conductor, Heinz Holliger is a celebrated teacher, especially for the instruction provided since 1966 at the Musikhochschule in Fribourg-en-Brisgau. The composer has long remained in the shadow of the musician, before an époque when they became progressively more well known in the 1980s.
His catalogue covers all genres, from the world of works for soloists, including several for his instrument (Studie über Mehrklänge ) and that of his wife Ursula (the harp, alone or with the oboe as in Mobile in 1962), as well as numerous works for voice and orchestra, including ConcErto… ? He is inspired by poets possessed by insanity and death like Hölderlin and Beckett. Heinz Holliger lives in Basle.