Thomas Cornelius Desi is a composer, author and director.
In over 40 productions, Desi developed a format of the new music theatre as a „théâtre d’auteur“ . In his theatrical work he investigates individual human psychology as the main drive for action and interaction in politics and its consequences on societies. Everything is „subjective“ perception. Texts of plays often include authentic quotations of historical persons. Performances at Linz Opera/Ars Electronica, TAG Vienna, Bregenzer Festspiele, Donaufestival Krems, Thalia Symphony Space and CCO New York a.o.
The project „Tarkovsky. The Eighth Film“ was nominated for the international Fedora Opera Prize 2018.
Thomas Cornelius Desi (also Thomas Dézsy; * 10 March 1967 in Bludenz)
is an Austrian author, director and composer, as well as artistic director of the music theatre festival Musiktheatertage Wien.
Desi studied music theory, conducting and composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna and was musical director of the Orchestra Association of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien and the music theatre group Totales Theater Wien. In 1992 he became Diether de la Motte’s personal assistant for music theory at the MDW. Desi attended composition seminars with Brian Ferneyhough (Royaumont, Szombathely), at the University of Berkley (USA), as well as with Rodney Sharman and Louis Andriessen (Amsterdam).
Performances of compositions have taken place with the „Österreichisches Ensemble für Neue Musik“, „Die Reihe“, „Les Percussions de Strasbourg“, the „Sinfonieorchester Ostrau“, the „Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg“, „Ensemble Ictus“, „Stuttgarter Vocalsolisten“.
Between 1994 and 2014 Desi specialized in over forty of his own productions in new music theatre, which could be seen in GarageX, dietheater, Wiener Konzerthaus, Brut, Ankerbrotfabrik, Semperdepot as well as at Theater Nestroyhof Hamakom, but also in Bregenz (Bregenzer Festspiele), Paris (Festival Oberkampf) and Rotterdam (Operadagen).
His opera project „Tarkovski. The 8th Film“ was nominated for the Fedora Opera Prize in 2018. The premiere of his opera „Die Verwechslung“ by the Sirene-Operntheater (Vienna) was produced as film during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. The premiere of a new string quartet (for a genuinely built string quartet at University of Music and Performing Arts by master violin maker C. Schachner) is planned as a workshop on contemporary string quartett music winter 2021. In the making is a 5-part madrigalesque opera for operasingers and audiences on bicycles („RingDing“), a Monodrama for Soprano and Bees, and a Tetralogy „KOLLAPSOLOGIE“ on the „end of the world as we know it“.
In 1989 Desi founded together with Christian Utz the ensemble „KlangArten – Neue Musik“, which he led musically and in 1994 the music theatre ensemble „ZOON“. As a musician with live electronics, he appeared in the Frankfurt group TEXTxtnd, curated the music theatre performance festival „Das Offene Ohr“ at the OK Linz in 1993, the producer meeting „NewOp11“ for new music theatre at the WUK Vienna, and organized the multi-part music/science series Re-Cycling Vienna.
Together with Eric Salzman Desi published the work „The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body“, as well as Zoon’s theatre work „Vom Projekt zum Produkt als Prozess“ and on the Viennese music theatre scene. Theatre workshops in London 2010 and New York 2009, 2013 completed the work, as well as lectureships on New Music after 1945 and New Music Theatre at the University of Music Vienna.
Since 2014 Thomas Desi has been artistic co-director of the festival MUSIKTHEATERTAGE WIEN, which he co-founded.