Clarinetist Reto Bieri is one of the world's top players of his instrument, becoming associated in the 2010s with the boutique ECM label. He is also a noted educator and has been director of the internationally significant Davos Festival since 2014.
Bieri was born in Zug, Switzerland, in 1975. His first musical experiences came not with the classics, but with Swiss folk music, playing in local taverns when he was young. Bieri at first planned a career as a schoolteacher but then switched to music, attending the Music Academy in Basel and working with François Benda. He went on for further study at the Juilliard School in New York with Charles Neidich. Also formative, were studies of chamber music with composer György Kurtág and pianist Krystian Zimerman; these left Bieri with an orientation toward contemporary music. A breakthrough came in 2001 when Bieri won a prize at the Tribune International des Jeunes Interprètes, a competition organized by European radio stations. That year, he recorded an album of American clarinet music for Pan Classics. His second recording, for Claves in 2008, was devoted to clarinet transcriptions of music by Schubert. Bieri's concert career has been international and has included appearances with Kremerata Baltica, the Bruckner Orchester Linz, and the Munich Chamber Orchestra, as well as all the leading Swiss orchestras. His chamber music collaborators are a top-notch group including Heinz Holliger, Gidon Kremer, Zoltan Kocsis, as well as leading string quartets from across Europe. In the 2010s, his career has continued to develop. He signed with the ECM label and released the solo album Contrechant in 2011; he has gone on to appear on several other releases on the label. In 2014, Bieri became director of the Davos Festival - Young Artists in Concert, and he has distinctively shaped the festival's programming. With the chamber group Meta4, Bieri released the album Quasi morendo, featuring music by Brahms, Salvatore Sciarrino, and Gérard Pesson, in 2019. He has served as professor of chamber music at the University of Würzburg in Germany and lives with his family in the Swiss Alps.