Barbara Heller was born into a family of restaurateurs in 1936 in Ludwigshafen on the Rhine. She studied music in Mannheim and Munich, and taught piano from 1958 to 1962 at the Mannheim College of Music. She studied composition under Hans Vogt (Mannheim) and Harald Genzmer (Munich). She won a scholarship to study in Sienna in 1963 (film music) and was awarded several scholarships of the "Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik" (International vacation courses for new music) in Darmstadt, where she has been living as freelance composer and pianist since 1963. From 1970 to 1975, she documented and archived the estate of the composer, Hermann Heiß, from Darmstadt, and was active as a member of the board of the "Institut für Neue Musik und Musikerziehung Darmstadt" (Institute for New Music and Musical Education) from 1986 to 1993.
As founding member and, at times, also member of the board of the "Internationaler Arbeitskreis Frau und Musik e.V." (Women in Music Germany), since 1978 she has dedicated herself to the works of forgotten female composers; research work, teaching and editing take up a lot of her time. She publishes the works of Fanny Hensel and of other contemporary female composers and, as solo pianist or member of a number of chamber-music groups she herself has founded, she lends her full support to performing their music. For her own compositions (piano, chamber music and songs), collaboration with the interpreters of her works is important. She loves to experiment and to interact with other arts, she is the driving force behind projects with female artists and actresses, composes music for films, creates tape-recorded compositions, sound installations and joint compositions. Her works, which may be notated traditionally or graphically, are increasingly characterised by openness and the love of experimentation, but they always challenge the improvisational imagination and the creativity of the interpreters. More and more, Barbara Heller is seeking closeness with nature - for her synonymous with the opening into a sound cosmos that will bring her into contact with the everlasting flow of existence. She lives and works alternately in Darmstadt, in the Odenwald forest and on the island of La Gomera. Her music is infused with a great richness of style, as well as an awareness of tradition as a basis for further development and musical experiments in the widest sense of the word. She expresses her poetical understanding of music in words: in song and in the music of sonorous diction.
Biography taken from composer’s website.