Between 1963 and 1970, York Höller studied composition with Bernd Alois Zimmermann, electronics with Herbert Eimert, piano and conducting at the Cologne Musikhochschule, and philosophy and musicology at the University of Cologne. He participated in the 1965 Ferienkurse at Darmstadt, and soon became established as one of the most promising German composers of his generation. He was invited by Karlheinz Stockhausen to work at the electronic studio of the WDR (West German Radio) in Cologne from1971-72, and has subsequently been appointed director of the studio as a successor to Stockhausen.
The commissioning of Arcus for the Ensemble InterContemporain in 1978 launched Höller's particular association with the French musical world. The technology at IRCAM offered Höller the opportunity to write a score which explored the integration of live and electronically processed sound. The success of Arcus, performed throughout Europe and in the USA, led to a second EIC commission, Resonance, and to a sequence of compositions achieving an impressive synthesis of acoustic and electronic mediums.
The 1980s also saw the composition of a number of purely acoustic pieces, including Piano Concerto No.1, written for Peter Donohoe and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and performed in Paris with Daniel Barenboim as soloist. The orchestral work Magische Klanggestalt has been played extensively throughout Europe, including tours to Scandinavia, Russia and Poland, by theHamburg Philharmonic under Hans Zender, and the Berlin Philharmonic under Barenboim.
Höller's opera Der Meister und Margarita (1984-89), a setting of Bulgakov's novel, was premiered at the Paris Opera, produced by Hans Neuenfels and conducted by Lothar Zagrosek. The work was subsequently staged by the Cologne Opera, and the composer has extracted a suite for soprano, orchestra, and tape, entitled Margaritas Traum. A recording of the Cologne production was released on Col Legno in 2000.
York Höller's music is published by Boosey & Hawkes.