Rainer Nova - Biographical Research

Friedrich Gulda - Music as a question of life

An artist's biography in the contemporary historical context of the 20th century

In the life of the Austrian pianist and composer Friedrich Gulda, various cultural influences and currents make themselves felt. Scholarly works on Gulda have so far dealt primarily with either the compositional works or the discography of the interpreter and creative musician.

The artist and person Friedrich Gulda – as interpreter, composer and provocateur – is the focus of this work, which explores the question of Gulda's cultural-political significance beyond his reception as a pianist. On the basis of biographical documents, several aspects of the pianist's life are not so much attributed to the innovation of a genius, but are understood as an effect of the socio-political and music-aesthetic currents of his time. A career as a world-class pianist was followed by a retreat from the classical concert scene and an increasing urge to provoke and escalate against the so-called establishment, in particular against a conservative bourgeois concert audience.

The hitherto unpublished and unrecorded written estate of Gulda (in the library of the ABPU) serves to discuss these developments. With a large number of surviving life and sound documents, it offers material for new insights and traces into the life of the exceptional artist. First, this estate must be selectively indexed and processed for the dissertation. Together with the evaluation of a series of narrative interviews, a structural reconstruction and discourse analysis of the various sources follows, leading to a socio-historical contextualisation of the phenomenon Gulda and the heterogeneity of his personality.

First supervisor: Univ.Doz. Dr.  Georg Nicklaus, ABPU
Second supervisor: Ao Univ. Prof. Dr. Christian Glanz, mdw


Rainer Nova completed his piano training with Horst Matthäus and Till Alexander Körber at the Anton Bruckner Private University Linz, with Manfred Wagner-Artzt at the Vienna University of Music and received further formative artistic impulses from Paul Gulda.

Curiosity and the desire for unconventional forms of performing led to the founding of his own ensemble CrossNova with concerts in the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Vienna Musikverein, Vienna Konzerthaus, Brucknerhaus Linz, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Porgy&Bess Vienna or RadioKulturhaus Vienna, among others.

In addition to his artistic and creative work, Rainer Nova is active in the fields of music education and as an author. Since 2012, Rainer Nova has led a piano class at the Music School of the City of Linz, and has been entrusted with the pedagogical direction of the Music School there since autumn 2021.