Helmut Lachenmann was born in Stuttgart in 1935 and studied there at the Musikhochschule between 1955 and 1958. His interest in the current avant-garde was reinforced by his first visit to the Darmstadt Ferienkurse in 1957, where he met Luigi Nono, with whom he studied in Venice between 1958 and 1960. Stockhausen was added to the pedagogical mix three years later, when Lachenmann attended the Cologne New Music Course.
In 1966 Lachenmann embarked on his own academic career, lecturing first on music theory at the Stuttgart Musikhochschule and subsequently teaching at the Ludwigsburg Pädagogische Hochschule and the Musikhochschule in Hanover, before returning to live in Stuttgart in 1981.
Since 1983, Lachenmann has been a featured composer at numerous festivals and concert series in Germany and abroad, including the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Ars Musica in Brussels, Musik der Zeit in Cologne, Festival d'Automne in Paris, Wien Modern in Vienna, and Tage für neue Musik in Stuttgart and Zurich. He is a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin and of the Akademien der Künste in Hamburg, Leipzig, Mannheim, and Munich.