Manfred Stahnke studied composition in Europe with Fortner, Huber, Ferneyhough and Ligeti, and in the USA with the microtonalist Ben Johnston and the computer-music scientist and composer John Chowning. He also finished a dissertation in musicology on Pierre Boulez’ Third Piano Sonata (1979, under Constantin Floros in Hamburg).
He has written three operas, two of which are microtonal (Usher after E.A.Poe, 1981; Heinrich IV after Pirandello, 1987), and one of which is in two media (Orpheus Kristall, for stage and Internet, 2001). He has also written several orchestral pieces (Der Mandelbrotbaum, 1992; Trace des sorciers, 1997, De Danzbodnlock, 2006) and a long list of chamber music, played by outstanding ensembles. Recently he has worked with the Modern Ensemble of Korea and the Intégrales Ensemble of Denmark, while teaching composition and music theory at the Hamburg Musikhochschule.
He has published many musicological works on different composers, such as Harry Partch, György Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Gérard Grisey and himself.