Born in Geneva in 1958, Michael Jarrell studied composition at the Geneva Conservatory with Eric Gaudibert and at various workshops in the United States (Tanglewood, 1979). He completed his training with Klaus Huber at the State Academy of Music in Freiburg im Breisgau. Since 1982 his works have been awarded numerous prizes: Prix Acanthes (1983), Beethoven Prize of the City of Bonn (1986), Marescotti Prize (1986), Gaudeamus (1988), Henriette Renié (1988) and Siemens-Förderungspreis (1990). From October 1991 to June 1993 he was Composer in Residence with the Lyon Orchestra. From 1993 he became professor of composition at the University of Vienna. In 1996 he was composer in residence at the Lucerne Festival and was then invited by the Musica Nova Helsinki Festival, which dedicated the festival to him in 2000. In 2001, the Salzburg Festival commissioned a concerto for piano and orchestra entitled Abschied. In the same year he was appointed "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres". In 2004, he was appointed professor of composition at the Geneva Conservatoire.
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