The KLANGSPUREN Schwaz Tirol New Music Festival was founded in 1994 by the internationally renowned pianist Thomas Larcher, Maria-Luise Mayr, who was the head of the cultural office of the city of Schwaz at the time, and Anton Hütter. Since then it has become the most important festival for new music in West Austria. South Tyrolean Festival Director and Cultural Manager Peter Paul Kainrath was the festival’s Artistic Director from 2003 – 2012. Since autumn 2012 the role has been in the capable hands of the internationally active German Festival Director and Music Curator Matthias Osterwold. Since 2014 Angelika Schopper is Managing Director and chairlady of KLANGSPUREN Schwaz.


Since its foundation, the KLANGSPUREN Schwaz Tirol New Music Festival has taken place annually in September in the Silver Region Karwendel. The main objective then was to provide a professional and expandable platform in West Austria for contemporary, dynamic new music and to showcase its origins and pioneers. It still is today. Moreover, KLANGSPUREN Schwaz strives to be an employer, facilitator and promoter to young musicians and composers by consistently incorporating them into the programme and developing new projects for them.


KLANGSPUREN Schwaz has become an integral part of the world of music. International partners include ensembles, orchestras, musicians and composers, as well as festivals, music colleges and academies, galleries and literary institutions. The Transart Festival of Bolzano/Rovereto co-produces many performances. Further co-operation partners include the Culture and Convention Centre Lucerne, the Menuhin Festival Gstaad, MaerzMusik Berlin, the Oslo Contemporary Music Festival Ultima, Tiroler Landestheater, Tiroler Symphonieorchester Innsbruck and many more.


KLANGSPUREN provides a platform for innovative, progressive, courageous and bold pioneers and visionaries, who want to have a hand in shaping the future of music history. Since 2004, the KLANGSPUREN International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA), an internationally renowned education programme in new music for young musicians by KLANGSPUREN in cooperation with the Frankfurt-based Ensemble Modern, has been held over 10 days in Schwaz. With members of Ensemble Modern as tutors and celebrated composers (Helmut Lachenmann, György Kurtág, Wolfgang Rihm, Michael Gielen, Steve Reich, Johannes Maria Staud, Martin Matalon, Heinz Holliger, George Benjamin, Unsuk Chin and, in 2013, Han Zender) as composers in residence of this master class, the next generation’s musicians are guaranteed a wonderfully unique, intense challenge.


Today KLANGSPUREN stands for innovation, openness and tolerance and focuses on presenting new and unusual, though not always easy pieces. It has been a success story – most concerts are sold out, and through its marketing methods with posters on trams and advertising on milk cartons and shopping bags of the M-Preis supermarket chain it has managed to attract new visitors to its concerts.  


KLANGSPUREN also actively makes contact with social services providers, with schools, preschools and apprentice training schemes, offering their own unique education programme in culture and music. Among other things, this includes a supplementary programme for adults that enables profound encounters with composers and musicians – on the musical pilgrimage, while mushroom-picking, whilst WALKING BY EAR etc – although the activities are not always music-oriented.


KLANGSPUREN CAFÉ takes place on the second Tuesday of every month in the bookshop liber wiederin or elsewhere from April to October. With this event series the festival aims to give insight into the multifaceted world of new music.  Since 2002 regular workshops have been conducted with apprentices and school children.


The children’s programme KLANGSPUREN BAREFOOT was initiated in 2004. In 2006, on the basis of experience gathered with these children's workshops, the festival expanded its project work to cater for school children and students. The Garden for Musical Young Vegetables was added to the programme in 2012. Pupils from the first year of the Volkschule Hans Sachs Schwaz are the first gardeners, tending to the garden through all four seasons.


Since 2008 KLANGSPUREN LOUD, a nine day workshop for musicians and composers, has been held for children and young adults from 8 to 18 years old. With the help of her team, Cathy Milliken, composer and director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra education department from 2005 – 2012, takes 60 kids and young people on a new and fascinating musical journey. New in 2013 will be an advanced KLANGSPUREN LOUD course under the name of KLANGSPUREN LOUDER.  


Since 2010, the initiative KLANGSPUREN ON WHEELS has sent a bus full of all the instruments of a symphony orchestra to Tyrolean schools and preschools. The children, aged between 4 and 16 years, are encouraged to pick them up, anything from the bassoon to the double bass, and have a go. They are given easy access to otherwise often out of reach instruments.
KLANGSPUREN ON WHEELS won the Bank Austria Art Award in the "Communication of art" category on 17.02.2011.


The choral courses Happy to Sing Off-key, which are held in spring and autumn in almost all of Tyrol's district capitals, are proving extremely popular. Sing for one hour, once a week, ten weeks long and joy and happiness become commonplace.