Born in Innsbruck in 1963, Thomas Larcher grew up in a musical climate where Bartók’s compositions were regarded as the ultimate in new music and where the Second Viennese School was simply ignored (not to mention serialism and other aspects of the musical avant-garde after 1945). His earliest compositions date back to his childhood. While his early studies as a pianist introduced him to the canon of composers from Bach to Brahms, in his teenage years his main inspiration came from jazz. Thanks to his mentor Werner Pirchner, jazz opened up a world for him that was, as he now says, “a far cry from the stiff lives of provincial musicians”. Moreover, in the music of Ornette Coleman, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Gil Evans, and Codona he found harmonic and rhythmic stimuli that are still identifiable in his music today. When he eventually went to Vienna to study, he was shocked at the taboos and convoluted self-justification he found in the new-music scene.
As he himself has explained, looking back, “that really knocked me sideways, and then I had to establish my own terrain all over again.” So while he quietly went on composing, he also embarked on a successful career as a concert pianist with a particular focus on new music. In 1993 he founded a new-music festival, Klangspuren, in Tyrol, where he was able to use his organisational and performance skills to promote the work of his fellow composers.
Heinz Holliger, Dennis Russell Davies and Manfred Eicher were amongst the friends and colleagues who encouraged Larcher to pursue composition further. Following early forays into piano music – some of which he performed himself on the CD Naunz (2001) – he moved on to larger items of chamber music (Ixxu; 2006), which in turn led, over the years, to orchestral music and concertante compositions.