Rebecca Saunders was born in London in 1967. She studied music, majoring in performance (violin) and composition at Edinburgh University, and studying composition from1991-1994 with Wolfgang Rihm at the Karlsruhe Music College in Germany. From 1994-1997 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 2009/2010 season. She was tutor at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse in 2010.
Rebecca Saunders has expanded her spectrum of musical genre since 2003: chroma (2003-2010) 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. Rebecca Saunders lives in Berlin.