Born in 1939 in Langenthal, Switzerland, Heinz Holliger studied in Bern, Paris and Basel. His studies included the oboe with Emile Cassagnaud and Pierre Pierlot, the piano with Sava Savoff and Yvonne Lefébure, and composition with Sándor Veress (who himself studied with Bartók and Kodály), and Pierre Boulez.
After winning first prize in both the Geneva and Munich International Competitions, he embarked on a prestigious career as an oboist. He performed on the world's most significant stages. As a result, many contemporary composers have dedicated their works to him, including Berio, Carter, Ligeti, Lutosławski, Messiaen and Penderecki.
As a conductor, he has led prestigious orchestras such as the Berliner Philharmoniker (the Berlin Philharmonic), the Cleveland Orchestra, the Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw, the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, the Wiener Symphoniker and Philharmoniker (the Vienna Symphony Orchestra), the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra), the SWR Symphony Orchestras of Baden-Baden, Freiburg and Stuttgart, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne (the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra), the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Orchestre national de Lyon and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg (the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra). He has worked regularly with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for many years.
Heinz has received numerous awards and distinctions. As a soloist, composer and conductor, Heinz Holliger has made multiple recordings for Teldec, Philips and ECM.