Katharina Nohl, pianist & composer

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

Fazil Say and Cyprien Katsaris have encouraged and urged me to compose and also to believe in my very creative and individual approach.

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

Fazil Say and Arvo Pärt – two living composers that are frequently performed. Consequently l wanted to compose to be performed – being skilfully, rhythmically and memorable.

What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?

The greatest challenge is trying new things that you first have to learn. It’s a long way but the summary of all the things you learn adds up and your pool of knowledge increases from which you draw experience and combinations.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

Challenging is meeting the expectations, pleasurable is knowing the first performance day.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

You can challenge their skills or offer them something completely new.

Of which works are you most proud?

Usually the one l am working on.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

Vivid, emotional, skilful, interested in different cultures, rhythmical

How do you work?

I work mostly on the piano straight into computer software Staffpad.

Who are your favourite musicians/composers?

A lot of unknown composers that l also perform. Also Messiaen, Satie, Gershwin or Bach.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

As a composer, that your music should be performed.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

General interest in others and their background and then working with it.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Thank goodness l enjoy doing so many different things such as playing music, writing music, my children, cooking, gardening, eating….


The place where Katharina Nohl was born in 1973 is a country that no longer exists – the GDR (German Democratic Republic). After the political change in 1989 she left Germany for England in order to start her musical studies in Southampton. Later on, she moved to Ferrara, Italy to study Italian music before specialising in Contemporary Music in London. Back in Germany, she spent some years in Munich where she continued her studies while deepening her knowledge by taking lessons with Alfons Kontarsky at the Mozarteum in Salzburg

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