Obituary: Sigune von Osten, Soprano, Producer & Major Champion of Modern Music, Dies at 71

By Nicolas Quiroga

German soprano Sigune von Osten died in the historic Trombacher Hof monastery, near Bad Kreuznach, Germany, on July 8, 2021. She was 71. 

Born on March 8, 1950, Von Osten studied in Hamburg and Karlsruche and became a champion of contemporary music by 20th and 21st century composers including John Cage, Olivier Messiaen, Luigi Nono, Giacinto Scelsi, and Krzysztof Penderecki, many of whom she worked with closely. In sum, she performed in over 100 world premieres. She was also a champion of composers from communist countries in the Society Union

It was performance of John Cage’s “Aria” in 1973 at the Days of New Music in Hanover that launched her career. From there, she collaborated with Cage, who encouraged her to become a composer, a requirement that goes beyond what is usually required of a classical singer. She would go on to become a songwriter, choreographer and producer.

In 1995, she founded the Musica Temporale Festival and the Musica Temporale Ensemble. In 1996, she developed the Atlantic Festival Rhineland-Palatinate as well as teh Art Point Trombacher HOF Cultural Initiative. She also organized the annual Parkmusik Neue Ho(e)rizonte Festival.

In 2011, Prime Minister Kurt Beck awarded him the Order of Merit of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate.