© Hoshiko Hiromi    

Born in Cyprus in 1971, composer Vassos Nicolaou studied at the Academies of Music in Cologne and Frankfurt, the Paris Conservatory and IRCAM, working with York Höller, Marco Stroppa, Marc-André Dalbavie, Philippe Leroux and Beat Furrer. He has also participated in master-classes at Centre Acanthes, International Eötvös Institute and Aldeburgh with Louis Andriessen, Tristan Murail, Jonathan Harvey, Peter Eötvös and Brian Ferneyhough.

Vassos Nicolaou has been the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships from institutions such as the German Academy Villa Massimo (Rome Prize 2015), International Ensemble Modern Academy, Herrenhaus Edenkoben (upon recommendation of Peter Eötvös), Athens Megaron, the Weimar Academy of Music – (Franz Lizst Fellowship) and the Cité des Arts in Paris. In 2005 he was awarded the “Bernd Alois Zimmermann Prize” from the City of Cologne. In 2007 a jury which included Pierre Boulez and Wolfgang Rihm selected Nicolaou for the prestigious “Giga-Hertz-Special-Award” and for the following two seasons he was a composing fellow at ZKM in Karlsruhe.  In 2008 he was awarded the Tremplin commission by the reading panel of IRCAM and Ensemble intercontemporain. In 2009 he was composer-in-research at IRCAM and creator-in-residence at the Tokyo Wonder Site.

Ranging from solo instrumental pieces to large orchestral works, Nicolaou´s compositions have been commissioned and  performed by some of the world’s leading ensembles including the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble intercontemporain, Ensemble Musikfabrik, London Sinfonietta, New World Symphony, International Ensemble Modern Academy, Helsinki Chamber Choir, Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, Tana Quartet, LUX:NM, Norrbotten Neo, International Contemporary Ensemble - New York and the Münster Opera.  

Further institutions that commissioned his music include the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, Kunststiftung NRW, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Südwestrundfunk, IRCAM, ZKM,  Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Aldeburgh Festival and The Pharos Foundation.

His compositions have been performed in venues and festivals such as the Philharmonie Berlin, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Centre Pompidou - Paris, Auditorium Parco della Musica Sala Santa Cecilia – Rome, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ - Amsterdam, New World Center - Miami, Musiikkitalo - Helsinki, Megaro - Athens, Arsenal - Metz, Musik der Zeit, Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, Klangspuren Schwaz, Time of Music Festival - Viitasaari and the Aldeburgh Festival.

Nicolaou has collaborated among others with conductors Peter Eötvös, Beat Furrer, Johannes Kalitzke, James Wood, Franck Ollu, Jonathan Stockhammer, Sian Edwards, Emilio Pomarico and soloists Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Tamara Stefanovich, Daniel Ciampolini, Johannes Schwarz, Jonas Olsson, Saar Berger and Dimitri Vassilakis.

Since 2008, Nicolaou has been teaching composition at the Education Programme of the Klavier-Festival Ruhr.

 He lives in Cologne.