Sidney Corbett was born in Chicago in 1960, studied music and philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and continued his study of composition at Yale University, where he earned his doctorate in 1989, and at the Hamburg Academy of the Arts with György Ligeti. Corbett has been active primarily in Europe since 1985. His output includes works for the stage, orchestral compositions, instrumental chamber music and a large amount of vocal music. His works have earned him numerous national and international awards and prizes and have been performed and broadcast worldwide.
A particular emphasis in his recent work has been in the area of music theatre. His chamber opera, "X UND Y", which was premiered at the Eclat Festival in Stuttgart in February 2002, the scenic work "Paradiso", after Dante, for speaker and string quartet, which also premiered in 2002, in Basle, the large scale opera, NOACH, after an original libretto by Christoph Hein, which ran very successfully in the 2001/2002 season at the Bremen Opera and his third opera, KEINE STILLE AUSSER DER DES WINDES (No Silence but that of the Wind), after texts by Fernando Pessoa, which premiered in the Concordia Theatre Bremen in January 2007 are all examples of this recent focus. The opera UBU, after Alfred Jarry with a libretto by Simone Home de Mello premiered at the opera house in Gelsenkirchen in April 2012. His most recent opera, “Das Große Heft”, after the novel by Agosta Kristof, premiered at the Osnabrück Opera in March, 2013.
A further emphasis has been on vocal music. Cycles on poems by Christina Lavant, Barbara Köhler, Paul Klee and others have emerged in recent years. Literary and theosophical subjects also inspire and inform his works. Yael", for solo violin and orchestra, draws upon the writings of Edmond Jabès and his Symphony No. 3, "Breathing the Water", commissioned by the Staatskapelle Berlin employs texts by the Iraqui poet Amal Al-Jubouri and the late American poet Denise Levertov. “Rasch”, commissioned by the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf employs texts by Roland Barthes. Corbett has also received commissions from the Berlin Philharmonic, MusikFabrik, West German Radio, Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart among many others. He is currently at work on a new opera for the Magdeburg Theatre to be premiered in March 2016.
Sidney Corbett is the guitarist of the band “Vierte Heimat” and also plays in a number of improvisation ensembles, e.g. the group “letzte dernière”. CDs featuring Corbett's music have been released on Cybele, CRI, Mode, Zeitklang, Ambitus, BIS and Kreuzberg Records. In 2011 a CD with his music for violin was released on Blue Griffin records, performed by Sarah Plum. A new portrait CD, The Longings, featuring chamber music, performed by the Berlin Modern Art Ensemble was recently released on Edition Kopernikus. Sidney Corbett is currently professor for composition at the University of the Performing Arts in Mannheim. He lives with his wife and three children in Schwetzingen, Germany.