Sidney Corbett, born in 1960 in Chicago, studied music and philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, Yale University, where he earned his doctorate in 1989 and from 1985 to 1988 at the Hamburg Academy of Music with György Ligeti. Corbett has lived primarily in Europe since 1985. His musical output, which includes opera and other forms of musical theatre, orchestral and chamber music and music for the voice has received numerous prizes and awards and is performed regularly by leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists worldwide. He has been professor of composition at the University of Performing Arts in Mannheim since 2006 and is also the director of their Forum for New Music. He has been musical director of the GNM Mannheim (Society for New Music Mannheim) since 2015.
Corbett is an artist outside the boundaries of „new music“ mainstream whose stance is nonetheless explicitly contemporary. His work draws upon a broad range of sources, both musical and extra-musical, including literature and the visual arts and engages philosophical and theological questions. A strong sense of lyricism and complexly overlaid rhythmic pulsations are characteristic of his music. Corbett is an active guitarist and was founding member of the avantgarde techno-house group „vierte heimat“ and also performs in various improvisation groups. His music is firmly established in the international music world.
A particular emphasis in his recent work has been in the area of music theatre. He has written six operas, among them NOACH, after a libretto by Christoph Hein (Bremen 2001), „Das Große Heft“ (The Notebook), after the novel by Agosta Kristof (Osnabrück 2013) and „Die Andere“ (The Other), again after a libretto by Christoph Hein (Magdeburg 2016). His most recent opera, „San Paolo“, after an unrealized screenplay by Pier Paolo Pasolini premiered in Osnabrück in April 2018 and was awarded the 2018 Pfalz Prize for Music.
Corbett’s literary leanings are also evidenced by his numerous song cycles and vocal works on texts by Christine Lavant, Barbara Köhler and Roland Barthes among others. Literary influences can also be found in his instrumental music, for example in „Yaël“ for violin and orchestra, which is inspired by the writings of Edmond Jabès or his Third Symphony, „Breathing the Water“, for soprano, trumpet and contrabass with string orchestra, which was premiered by the Staatskapelle Berlin and in which texts by Denise Levertov and Amal Al-Jubouri are juxtaposed.
CDs of his music have been released on Kreuzberg Records, Cybele, Mode, CRI, Edition Zeitklang, Blue Griffin, Edition Kopernikus and Ambitus. Corbett lives with his wife and three children in Schwetzingen.