Johannes Kalitzke, one of today’s most eminent composer/conductors, was born in Cologne in 1959. After initial piano lessons with Jeanette Chéro and church music studies in his hometown, he enrolled at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, where his teachers were Aloys Kontarsky (piano), Wolfgang von der Nahmer (conducting), York Höller (composition), and later Ulrich Humpert (electronic music). He subsequently contiuned his studies with Vinko Globokar at IRCAM in Paris on a scholarship from the “Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes".
From 1984 to 1990 he worked at the “Musiktheater im Revier” in Gelsenkirchen, first as conductor and later as principal conductor. In 1986, he succeeded Carla Henius as director of the New Music Forum, and in 1991 he became artistic director and conductor of musikFabrik. Since 1996, he has taught at the Darmstadt Summer Courses and headed conducting seminars at various institutes of higher education, including the Conductors' Forum of the German Music Council. Nowadays he is a regular guest conductor and composer with orchestras and ensembles at international contemporary music festivals.
Kalitzke’s first opera, Bericht über den Tod des Musikers Jack Tiergarten, was premiered at the Munich Biennale in 1996. As a result from that, he was commissioned by the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein to write his second opera, Molière oder die Henker der Komödianten, premiered in Bremen in 1998, followed by Inferno in 2004. In 2007 he received a commission for Die Besessenen after Witold Gombrowicz for Vienna’s Theater an der Wien, where it was premiered on 19 February 2010.
Johannes Kalitzke divides his time a freelance musician between Cologne and Vienna.