A Swiss composer born March 28, 1972 in Geneva (Switzerland).
A guitarist with a diploma form the Conservatory of Fribourg (Switzerland), Xavier Dayer studied composition with Eric Gaudibert at the Conservatoire Populaire de Musique in Geneva. He completed his training with Heinz Holliger at a composition session organised in 1996 in Bienne, Switzerland, and with Tristan Murail and Brian Ferneyhough in the composition and computer music course of Ircam. He also took part in the composition session Voix Nouvelles in Royaumont, before reaching recognition in Geneva thanks to the ensemble Contrechamps in a Portrait-concert (1998).
Dayer is sensitive to the polyphonic music of the Renaissance, as also to the works of Anton Webern, Morton Feldman, Luigi Nono, György Kurtag, Elliott Carter and Iannis Xenakis. He develops a poetic world, cultivating the intermediary spaces, at the frontier of dream and reality. His works find inspiration from poets and visual artistes such as François Villon, Paul Celan, Stefan Zweig, Fernando Pessoa, Cy Twombly, Anette von Droste-Hülshoff. Xavier Dayer is in particular attracted by the interval between music and meaning, by the instant when words become music and music becomes words.
Xavier Dayer composes for all groupings, from chamber music to opera. Works include To the sea, hommage à Cy Twombly for alto flute, commissioned by Pro Helvetia (1999); Sonnet XXI for vocal sextet, commissioned by the French State, first performed by the Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart conducted by Manfred Schreier (2000); Promenade de Ricardo Reis for guitar, commissioned by Radio France for the broadcast Alla breve (2002); Sonnet VIII for alto flute, cello, ensemble and instrumental chorus, commissioned and first performed by the ensemble Contrechamps conducted by Jurjen Hempel (2004); Delights for eight voices, ensemble and electronics, commissioned by Ircam, first performed by Les Jeunes Solistes and the Ensemble Intercontemporain conducted by Susanna Mälkki, with Gilbert Nouno directing the computer music part, at La Cité de la Musique in Paris (2007); Ars memoriae for chamber orchestra, first performed by the Orchestre des Pays de Savoie (2009); Sous la voûte étoilée for two pianos and two percussions, first performed by the Ensemble Makrokosmos in Vevey (2010); Contes de la lune vague après la pluie, chamber opera, first performed by the ensemble Linea conducted by Jean-Philippe Wurtz at Rouen Opera (2014); Alzheim, music theatre, first performed by the BSO (Berner Symphonieorchester) conducted by Jochem Hochstenbach (2017); Ecce filius tuus for ensemble, commissioned and first performed by the ensemble Lemanic conducted by William Blank at the Maison de la Radio in Geneva (2019).
Xavier Dayer also teaches composition and theory at the Haute École des Arts of Berne, where he is in charge of the Master’s degree in composition.