A Swiss composer born May 9, 1941 in Geneva.
A flautist by training, Gérard Zinsstag studied at the Geneva Conservatory, the Paris Conservatory and the Accademia Chigiana in Sienna. After an itinerant career as an instrumentalist, he devoted himself exclusively to composition in 1975. He then took advanced classes in the summers of 1976-1978 in Darmstadt as well as with Hans Ulrich Lehmann and then Helmut Lachenmann. Foris (1979) for two orchestras, a synthesis of his instrumental investigations into noise, was premiered in Donaueschingen and it launched his career in Europe. His meeting and friendship with Gérard Grisey led them both to an examination of sound matter and to an æsthetic blending spectra and pitch (Tempor, 1992). Seeking greater colour in music, Gérard Zinsstag introduced more expressive materials and elements of extra-European music (Expressivo, 1990; Tahir, 1995). He also quotes classical works, as is shown in his opera Ubu Cocu (2001), borrowing as it does figures from Beethoven, Verdi and Tchaikovsky. Literary works are also an inspiration, for example, notably, the Poem of Gilgamesh (Gilgamesh, 2004-2007, state commission), and the writings of Alfred Jarry and Samuel Beckett (Bing, 2009). One of his recent instrumental works, Lasciar vibrar (2010), was commissioned by the festival Tage für Neue Musik, a festival he founded in 1986 with Thomas Kessler, and that he directed until 1994.