Michael Mantler
Instrument: trumpet

Photo: Gorm Valentin, © ECM Records

Mantler Michael

General Information

Year of Birth:  1943
Place of Birth:  Vienna
Region of Birth: 
Country of Birth: 


Michael Mantler grew up in St. Pölten and studied trumpet at the University for Music and the Performing Arts Vienna. Shortly after his school leaving examination, one of his professors arranged for him to do a two month-long internship at Vincent Bach's trumpet factory. One year later, in 1962, he left Vienna for good in order to study at Berklee College in Boston. He soon came in contact with the New York Avant-garde, with Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra and the Jazz Composer's Guild from 1968, which preceded the Jazz Composer's Orchestra Association (JCOA), was initiated by Mantler, and was aimed at commissioning, presenting, and releasing the recordings of new compositions for the jazz orchestra. In those days he also met Ms Carla Bley, whom he would later marry. Marketing problems with JCOA recordings led him to establish the New Music Distribution Service in 1972, a society which supported many independent record labels during the 20 years to follow. Many world tours followed with the Carla Bley Band and with groups of his own, and he recorded numerous albums with different people. He received composition scholarships from the Creative Artists Program Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.


Commissions and performances from and with European orchestras followed: concerts with the North and West German Broadcasting Corporation, the opera in Lille, as well as with the Swedish and Danish broadcasting corporations. In 1991 he returned to Europe to live and work in Copenhagen. Further commissions included that by the Niederösterreichische Donaufestival, the Danish Radio Big Band and the Big Band of the North-German Broadcasting Corporation in Hamburg. Further studio recordings followed: "Cerco Un Paese Innocente", a 70-minute song suite for voice, non-typical Big Band and chamber music ensemble based on texts by the great Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti, and "The School of Understanding" . One Symphony, a work commissioned by the Hessian Broadcasting Corporation, had its world premiere in November 1998 at the Forum Neue Musik with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Rundel. The work was released by ECM in February 2000, together with other songs which had not yet been released (with the "Chamber Music and Songs Ensemble" and Mona Larsen, songs with lyrics performed by Ernst Meister).


Hide and Seek, an album with songs based on texts by Paul Auster for chamber orchestra and two singers (Robert Wyatt and Susi Hyldgaard), was released in March 2001. Multimedia music theatre productions staged by Rolf Heim (who already had worked with Mantler at The School of Languages), took place in spring 2002 in Copenhagen (Kanonhallen) and Berlin (Hebbel Theater). He worked on different chamber music works and on a series of concertos for orchestra and instrumental solists. The first of the series, a marimba and vibraphone concerto (originally commissioned by Portugese percussionist Pedro Carneiro), had its world premiere in March 2005 for the Hessian Broadcasting Corporation at the Forum Neue Musik by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pascal Rophé. In September 2006, Mantler performed on an Austrian stage for the first time since the 1980s on the occasion of a portrait concert dedicated to him at Vienna's Porgy&Bess. The CD "Review" is scheduled for release in autumn of the same year, and it is a collection of 22 pieces composed between 1968 and 2000.


Source: http://www.mantlermusic.com - September 2006



Founder of the Jazz Composer's Orchestra Association


Founder of New Music Distribution Service


Founder of the label WATT


Founder of the ensemble 'Chamber Music and Songs'

manager of his wife Carla Bley for several years

Performances (Selection)


The School of Understanding


Hide and Seek


Marimba/Vibraphone Concerto


artist feature

Commissions (Selection)

PeriodCommissionCompositionCommissioner (Organisation)Commissioner (Person)

Danish Radio Big Band





PeriodAwardCompositionAwarding Organisation

Austrian state award for improvised music


Jakob Prandtauer Prize

Discography, Projects

Contact, Links