Susanne Ortner

Susanne is a beautiful musician who plays with conviction, great passion, lovely intonation, a good ear, always deeply attuned to everything going on around her (something I REALLY appreciate), and a deep-in-the-pocket groove.
— Guy Klucevsek - accordionist/composer

New Orleans based German clarinetist and saxophonist, and composer Susanne Ortner is equally conversant in jazz, , and classical music, and various ethnic musics.

Clarinet On The Rocks - by Geir Arnesen

Clarinet On The Rocks - by Geir Arnesen

The German Newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine states that she is “a musician par excellence, capable of moving you deeply“. Susanne is a graduate of the University of Augsburg. She previously taught German literature, language and music.

Her desire to find the similar in the different has lead to the exploration of a myriad of musical traditions, as well as to collaborations and international concert tours with numerous outstanding musicians – mostly in the intimate duo or trio format - such as the Susanne Ortner Trio with Nahum Zdybel on guitar, and James Singleton on bass, with pianist Tom McDermott, Belgium Gypsy icon Tcha Limberger, with accordionist/pianist Alan Bern, with accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman, 1. Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonics Noah Bendix-Balgley, multi-instrumentalist Vince Giordano, pianist Tom Roberts and with her German quartet Sing Your Soul.

She is the subject of the book “Living the Dream” – Für die Musik nach Amerika” (Wissner Verlag Augsburg, 2011), written by German Television journalist Helge Fuhst.

Following an invitation by the University of Pittsburgh in 2006 she accompanied Pittsburgh area Holocaust Survivors at schools and Universities creating the musical framework for their stories until her move to New Orleans in 2016. Besides master classes and lectures at the University of Pittsburgh, and Duquesne University, she instructed the klezmer band at the Agency for Jewish Learning, was the interim director of the Carpathian Ensemble at The University of Pittsburgh, and has been coaching the CMU/Hillel klezmer band. She held an adjunct teaching position at Washington & Jefferson College. Susanne was the co-founder of the Three Rivers Klezmer Festival. During her years in Pittsburgh Susanne formed a duo with pianist Tom Roberts, performing “Hot World Chamber Music”.

Susanne has arranged and composed music for many theatrical productions including “Mazel” by Amy Hartman, ,“Our Class” by Tadeusz Slobozianek, and "Die Weihnachtsgeschichte" by The Augsburger Puppenkiste . She appears on several CDs, including “A Trip To America” and “Hot World Chamber Music” (Ortner-Roberts Duo), “A Tribute to Teenie Harris” (Manchester Craftsmen’s Guilde), “Khosn Kale Mazl-Tov” (Sing Your Soul), "Die Musik aus der Weihnachtsgeschichte" (Susanne Ortner quartet) and has done book and film projects.

She currently resides in New Orleans, USA.


„Susanne Ortner […] enchanted with her almost unbelievable witchcraft on the clarinet“ Aichacher Nachrichten

„Susanne Ortner […] seems to be capable of everything (…) Warm, soft tones if necessary, rapid, speedy passages and in addition to this the challenging embellishments, typical for klezmer music, all at breakneck speed and with an almost unbelievable ease.“ Donau Zeitung.