Over the course of the past decades, Kurt Schwertsik, 85 years old today, has earned the reputation of a colourful figure in Viennese music life. Internationally, he has long been considered one of Austria’s leading composers, whose works have been performed at many large festivals. In the 1960s he was a student of Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne, but Schwertsik soon gave up serialism again and began to compose tonal music. Often, his works are characterized by an ironic, humoristic note. Also a horn player in the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Schwertsik enjoyed success with numerous solo concerti, but also the fantastical opera Fanferlieschen Schönefüßchen (1983), the five-part orchestral cycle Irdische Klänge (1992) and his Sinfonia–Sinfonietta (1996). He wrote his Divertimento Macchiato (2007) for the trumpet player Håkan Hardenberger; his ballets Macbeth, Frida Kahlo, Nietzsche, Gastmahl der Liebe and Hans Christian Andersen were created in cooperation with the choreographer Johann Kresnik.