Peter Ruzicka was born in Düsseldorf on July 3, 1948. He received his early musical training (piano, oboe and composition) at the Hamburg Conservatory. Pursued studies in composition with Hans Werner Henze and Hans Otte. He studied law and musicology in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin (doctoral thesis: Berlin, 1977). His compositions’ list includes numerous orchestral and chamber works as well as the opera Celan, which was premiered in Dresden in 2001. His opera Hölderlin was premiered at the Berlin State Opera in 2008.
Peter Ruzicka was appointed professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg in 1990. The composer is a member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and of the Free Academy of Arts in Hamburg.
Peter Ruzicka’s works were performed by leading international orchestras and ensembles like the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Munich, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, NDR Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Munich Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Philharmonia London, the Czech Philharmonic, Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, the Israel Philharmonic, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the New York Philharmonic. Conductors like Gerd Albrecht, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Semyon Bychkov, Riccardo Chailly, Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Gielen, Paavo Järvi, Mariss Jansons, Kurt Masur, Antonio Pappano, Giuseppe Sinopoli and Christian Thielemann have performed his works.
Peter Ruzicka was artistic director of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1987 and director of the Hamburg State Opera and State Philharmonic Orchestra from 1988 to 1997. Moreover, he was artistic advisor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam from 1997 to 1999. In 1999 he was named President of the Bavarian Theatre Academy. From 2001 to 2006, Ruzicka took over the artistic directorship of the Salzburg Festival. Until 2014 he was artistic director of the Munich Biennale having succeeded Hans Werner Henze in 1996. Since 2015 he serves as intendant of the Salzburg Easter Festival.
As a conductor of his own and other works, Peter Ruzicka has directed the German Symphony Orchestra in Berlin – recording CDs of music by Mahler, Pettersson and Schreker –, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, NDR Orchestra Hamburg – recording a cycle of 12 orchestral works by Hans Werner Henze –, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, the Radio Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt, MDR Symphony Orchestra Leipzig, the Munich Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the German Opera Berlin, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Danish National Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and the China Philharmonic Orchestra among others.