Swiss/Dutch singer and composer Susanne Abbuehl was born in Bern, Switzerland, on July 30, 1970. Drawn to music and language early on, composing songs and writing words in her own language, she started studying the harpsichord as a child. At age seventeen, she moved to Los Angeles where she graduated from high school and started taking lessons in classical singing. She was a member of a high school jazz group that toured the U.S. and Canada. Back in Europe, she took up professional education in jazz and classical voice at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where she studied with Rachel Gould and the late Jeanne Lee. She earned a Masters of Arts degree in Performance and Music Pedagogy, graduating cum laude.
Abbuehl also studied North Indian classical vocal music with Dr. Indurama Srivastava in Amsterdam and later became a student of famed master singer Dr. Prabha Atre in Bombay, to whom she regularly returns.
She studied composition and analysis with Dutch composer Diderik Wagenaar.
2013 brought the release of „The Gift“, her third recording for ECM. It features compositions by Susanne Abbuehl for poems by Sara Teasdale, Emily Brontë and Emily Dickinson. Produced by Manfred Eicher, the line-up includes Dutch pianist Wolfert Brederode, Swiss flugelhornist Matthieu Michel and Finnish drummer Olavi Louhivuori.
With her own group, Susanne Abbuehl has toured extensively and was invited to perform at major festivals in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.
She performed and recorded with musicians from various musical backgrounds, including the Jeanne Lee Music & Dance Ensemble, Christof May, Stephan Oliva, Michel Portal and Paolo Pandolfo.
Susanne Abbuehl has been commissioned to compose for various settings, including work for radio, theatre, and sound environments.
Her composition “Der Gaukler Tag”, a radio play produced for Swiss National Radio SRF with Claude Salmony, performed by her students in Lucerne, and featuring her colleague Lauren Newton as well as actress Marie Jung as speakers, was nominated for the 2013 Prix Marulić.
In 2016, Susanne Abbuehl was one of the recipients of the Swiss Music Prize. In 2017, Princess, the release by Stephan Oliva, Susanne Abbuehl and Oyvind Hegg-Lunde for the French label Vision Fugitive, won the Grand Prix du Disque Jazz Académie Charles Cros. And in January 2018, Susanne Abbuehl won the European Musician 2017 award from the French Académie du Jazz.
Susanne Abbuehl was Professor for voice, ensemble, composing for and with poetry and words, and didactics at the music universities in Lucerne and Lausanne, Switzerland. At HEMU Lausanne, she conducted several research projects, most recently focusing on perfect pitch.
Until August 2020, she headed the jazz and folk department of Hochschule Luzern–Musik. Since September 2020, she heads the jazz department of the Royal Conservatoire The Hague, where she continues to teach.
Carles, P., Clergeat, A., Comolli, J.-L. (2011): Le Nouveau Dictionnaire du Jazz. Paris : Robert Laffont
Yanow, S. (2008): The Jazz Singers – The Ultimate Guide. New York: Backbeat Books
Lake, S., Griffiths, P. (2007): Horizons Touched – The Music of ECM. London: Granta
Selected published articles:
Abbuehl, S. (2015): Klang, Rhythmus, Tanz: Komponieren für Gedichte. In: Krätzer, J., Steinmetzger, U., Viertelhaus, B. (ed.): Sonne, Mond und Sterne: Von Literatur und Musik. die horen, edition 259. Göttingen: Wallstein, p. 102 – 110
Abbuehl, S. (2007): Words and Music. In: Lake, S., Griffiths, P. (Hrsg.): Horizons Touched. The Music of ECM. London: Granta, p. 389-390