was born in London in 1967. She studied music, majoring in performance (violin) and composition, at Edinburgh University, and composition from (1991–94) with Wolfgang Rihm at the Karlsruhe Music College in Germany. From 1994–97 she held the Premier Scholarship at the Edinburgh University for a PhD in Composition with Nigel Osborne.
She has received various composition prizes including the Ernst von Siemens Förderpreis, the ARD and BMW AG musica viva Prize, the Paul Hindemith Prize, the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Award for Chamber Music in 2008 and the GEMA Deutscher Musikautorenpreis for Instrumental Music 2010. In 2009 she became a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts, and was the Capel-Compositeur at the Staatskapelle Dresden for the 2009/10 season. She was tutor at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse in 2010.
Rebecca Saunders has expanded her spectrum of musical genres since 2003: chroma (2003–10) divides up to twenty chamber groups and sound sources throughout the performing space. The characteristics of the architectural space define the formal juxtaposition of the various chamber music groups, whereby each solo or group is like a protagonist in a form of pure instrumental theatre. insideout, music for a choreographed installation, was her first work for the stage and was created in collaboration with Sasha Waltz in 2003.
Later works, such as Stirrings Still I and II, and most recently murmurs from 2009, are quiet and fragile collage compositions in which Saunders continues to address her fascination with the separation of the musicians in the performing space.
Many of her compositions have been released on CD. She lives in Berlin.
Selected works: Behind the Velvet Curtain for trumpet, piano, harp and violoncello (1991), the under-side of green for clarinet, violin and piano (1994), Mirror, mirror on the wall for piano (1994), CRIMSON – Molly’s Song 1 for 12 soloists, mechanical metronomes, whistles and 3 music boxes (1995), G and E on A for orchestra and 27 music boxes (1996/97), String Quartet (1997), Duo for violin and piano (1996/99), cinnabar, double concerto for solo violin and solo trumpet, ensemble and 11 music boxes (1999), Duo 3 for viola and percussion (1999/2001), Duo four – two exposures, double concerto for trumpet, percussion and orchestra (2000), albescere for twelve instruments and five voices (2001), insideout, music for a choreographic installation (a collaboration with the Sasha Waltz Dance Company) (2003), vermilion for clarinet, electric guitar and violoncello (2003), chroma (versions I–X) for several chamber groups and sound objects (2003–08), crimson for piano solo (2003–05), blaauw for double-bell trumpet (2004), miniata for solo piano, solo accordion, choir and symphony orchestra (2004), choler for two pianos (2004), rubricare for string orchestra and baroque organ (2005), fury for double bass (2005), Blue and Gray for two double basses (2005), a visible trace for eleven soloists and conductor (2006), Stirrings Still for five players (2006), traces for chamber orchestra (2006), Soliloquy for six voices a cappella (2007), company for five soloists (2007/08), Murmurs, collage for 10 players (2009), to and fro for violin and oboe (2010), Stratum for orchestra (2010), dialogue for viola and percussion (2011), Neither for 2 double bell trumpets (2011), Stasis, a spacial collage for 16 soloists (2011), Still for solo violin and orchestra (2011), Stirrings (2011) for nine players, Fletch for string quartet (2012), Ire, concerto for violoncello, strings and percussion (2012), ... of waters making moan for accordion (2013).