Born in Cologne, Johannes Kalitzke studied church music, piano (Aloys Kontarsky), conducting (Wolfgang von der Nahmer) and composition (York Höller) there. A scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation enabled him to study in Paris at the IRCAM Institute. There he was a student of Vinko Globokar, at the same time in Cologne of Hans Ulrich Humpert (electronic music). Johannes Kalitzke’s first engagement as a conductor was in 1984 at the Musiktheater im Revier Gelsenkirchen, where he first worked as Kapellmeister, then from 1988-90 as chief conductor.
In 1991 he became artistic director and conductor of musikFabrik NRW (today Ensemble Musikfabrik), the state ensemble of North Rhine-Westphalia, which he co-founded. Johannes Kalitzke is in demand internationally both as a conductor and as a composer and is a regular guest with ensembles (Klangforum Wien, Collegium Novum Zürich, Ensemble Modern) and numerous symphony orchestras, including those of the NDR, BBC, SWR, MDR, HR, BR , the DSO Berlin and the RSO Vienna. There are also opera productions at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, the Stuttgart Opera, the Komische Oper Berlin, the Wiener Festwochen, the Munich Biennale, the Nationaltheater Mannheim, the Theater an der Wien, the Theater Basel and the Salzburg Festival. Tours to Russia, Japan and America as well as numerous CD recordings complete his work as a performer of classical and contemporary music. As a composer, Kalitzke has repeatedly received commissions from the SWR Donaueschinger Musiktage, the Ultrasonic Berlin and the Wittener Tage for new chamber music, as well as from numerous radio orchestras. In addition, a silent film orchestral music for the film Die Weber (1927) was commissioned by the Augsburg Philharmonic in 2011. Kalitzke’s first music theater piece, the report on the death of the musician Jack Tiergarten, was a contribution to the Munich Biennale in 1996. His second opera, Molière or the Comedian’s Executioner, was commissioned by the state of Schleswig-Holstein, as was his third opera, Inferno after Peter Weiss , were premiered at the Theater Bremen. An opera based on Witold Gombrowicz’s novel The Possessed was premiered by the Theater an der Wien in 2010. In February 2016, his latest opera Pym – based on the novel by Edgar Allen Poe – premiered at the Theater Heidelberg. His teaching activities include ensemble seminars at the Folkwanghochschule in Essen and Hanover, management of the ensemble forum at the Darmstadt Summer Courses, management of the conducting forum for ensemble music of the German Music Council, conducting courses at the Salzburg Summer Academy, the Reina Sofia Music School in Madrid and the Zurich University of Music. In 2015 he was appointed professor at the Hochschule Mozarteum Salzburg. Kalitzke has received numerous awards, including the “Bernd Alois Zimmermann Prize” from the city of Cologne and the 2003 scholarship for the Villa Massimo, Rome. He has been a member of the since 2009
Academy of Arts in Berlin and since 2015 member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts.
He is currently working on orchestral music for the Expressionist silent film, among other things as a commission for the Witten Days for NewcomersChamber Music and the Carinthian Summer.