Ursula Holliger Collection

Ursula Holliger
Swiss harpist

born July 7, 1937, in Basel, Switzerland
died January 21, 2014, in Basel, Switzerland


Ursula Holliger was counted among those internationally active instrumentalists who constantly expanded their repertoire, on the one hand by researching unknown works (older as well as more recent), and on the other hand by soliciting new compositions in order to be the first to perform them.

After studies in Basel and Brussels, Ursula Holliger taught at the Zurich Conservatory, the Basel Music Academy, and the Musikhochschule in Freiburg im Breisgau. She made a name for herself as a chamber musician as well as in the orchestral field, bridging the gap between the classical harp repertoire and the present. Like Heinz Holliger, she had an important role as a catalyst, testing new playing techniques and thus contributing to the expansion of musical material. Since the 1960s Ursula and Heinz Holliger premiered numerous commissioned works together, including the Double Concertos by Hans Werner Henze (1968) and Witold Lutosławski (1979-80), Frank Martin's Trois Danses (1970), or Toru Takemitsu's Eucalypts (1970) – all commissioned by Paul Sacher and premiered with the Basel Chamber Orchestra or the Collegium Musicum Zurich. With Harrison Birtwistle, Elliott Carter, Edison Denisov, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Ernst Krenek, Alfred Schnittke, Isang Yun, as well as a number of Swiss composers such as Klaus Huber, Hans Ulrich Lehmann, Jacques Wildberger, and Jürg Wyttenbach, she formed friendships that are reflected in numerous dedicatory compositions, including some for solo harp.

Ursula Holliger, 1960s (photo Manfred Beuerle)
Ursula Holliger, 1960s (photo Manfred Beuerle)

The Ursula Holliger Collection contains primarily those parts of the estate that concern the music of the 20th century: original manuscripts by Heinz Holliger, Klaus Huber, Hans Ulrich Lehmann, and Jürg Wyttenbach, as well as Haubenstock-Ramati's harp piece Cathédrale (1988). In addition, the autograph of the score including parts and orchestral material of the unpublished Concertante No. 2 for harp, violin, and orchestra in E minor by Louis Spohr (1807), which Ursula Holliger discovered and recorded, is included. The larger part of the collection is made up of Ursula Holliger's performance materials for almost all of the works she played (copies or printed editions of scores and harp parts with annotations), but also rare editions of solo and chamber music harp literature of the 20th century. In addition, the still-incomplete collection contains correspondence, photos, sound recordings, and programs.

Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Cathédrale I for harp solo (1988). Photocopy of fair copy with performance annotations by Ursula Holliger, p. 1
Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Cathédrale I for harp solo (1988). Photocopy of fair copy with performance annotations by Ursula Holliger, p. 1

Scope of holdings

  • Music manuscripts: Dedication copies and commissioned works
  • Printed scores: Personal copies with performance annotations
  • Correspondence
  • Programs / reviews
  • Photos
  • Sound recordings


  • 2021 Collection enters the PSS holdings


  • Internal inventories

Publications of the Paul Sacher Foundation

  • Anne C. Shreffler, Netzwerke der Zusammenarbeit – Heinz und Ursula Holliger (in German; also available in French and Italian editions)
    in: «Entre Denges et Denezy ...». Dokumente zur Schweizer Musikgeschichte 1900–2000, ed. Ulrich Mosch (Mainz etc.: Schott 2000), pp. 106–16


8 May 2023