Gösta Neuwirth was born 1937 in Vienna where he studied composition with Karl Schiske at the music academy as well as musicology and dramatics at Vienna University. After a short stint as journalist working for the "Grazer Neue Zeit" he continued his studies at the Freie Universität Berlin with Adam Adrio. This was due to the fact that the university in Graz had refused to accept the subject of his thesis on anti-Semitic grounds. He received his PhD in Berlin in 1968 with a dissertation on the harmonics in Schreker's opera "Der ferne Klang".
From 1968 until 1970 he worked at the Mendelssohn Archives at the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz; and from 1970 to 1972 he collaborated with others on an edition of the complete works of Schönberg. From 1973 to 1982 he was Head of the Electronics Studio at the Music University Graz and gave lectures on the History of Music both there and at Graz University.
In 1982 he was appointed professor of the History of Music Theory at the UdK Berlin, a position he occupied until he became professor emeritus in 2000.
Since the winter semester 2009/10 he is working as honorary professor at the Seminary of Musicology at the University of Freiburg.
During all this time, Neuwirth has also worked as composer and has been awarded numerous prizes for his oeuvre, such as the Prize of the City of Graz, the Hugo Wolf-Prize, the Prize for Composition of the Musikprotokoll, the Art Prize of the City of Vienna, the Johann Joseph Fux-Prize of the Federal State of Styria and the Maria Ensle-Prize of the Art Foundation Baden Württemberg. A great number of notable composers have been his students, Isabel Mundy amongst them.
On the occasion of his 70th birthday the Graz-based music festival "Styriarte 2007" organized a homage, performing both his and Schreker's works; and in October 2008 his piece "L'oubli boulli", a commission from Klangforum Wien, was premiered.