Karlsruhe (Baden-Württemberg, Germany), 1952

Wolfgang Rihm was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1952, and began studying composition under Eugen Werner Welte in 1968. In 1972-73 he studied with Stockhausen in Cologne, then took composition lessons with Klaus Huber and studied musicology with Hans Heinz Eggebrecht. Rihm has taught summer courses in Darmstadt since 1978. He also taught at the Karlsruhe Musikhochschule and was appointed professor of composition there in 1985.

Rihm has become one of the most influential composers of the generation born after the Second World War, and was among those who effected a paradigm shift in German musical culture, replacing his predecessors’ essentially intellectual and structuralist conception of art with one giving freer rein to emotion, adopting a more flexible approach to structure. To this end, Rihm’s music often appeals to the highly expressive sound worlds of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century composers, with Mahler and Bruckner being particular favourites. Rihm’s output is extremely large and includes highly influential stage works, as well as orchestral compositions, chamber music, and songs.