Rolf Urs Ringger was born in 1935 in Zurich, Switzerland. While still in school in Küsnacht, Zurich, Ringger received private tutoring in counterpoint from Hermann Haller, before commencing with proper musical studies at the conservatory in Zurich. In the summer of 1956 Ringger participated in the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany, where he became acquainted with Boulez, Nono, Stockhausen, and Adorno. The same year Ringger als studied with Hans Werner Henze in Naples, Italy, which had a lasting impact on him. From 1958–1962 Ringger took conducting lessons in Zurich and studied musicology and philosophy. He completed his studies in 1964 with a dissertation on the songs with piano by Anton Webern.
Interviewed about his personal tonal language Ringger has stated: “My music is a combination of Debussy and Webern. The experience of French impressionism resulted in the introduction of tonal elements and a certain softness into my music. (…) My music is always economical and transparent.” (Interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on 6 April 2005, on the occasion of Ringger’s 70th birthday.)
Since 1974 Ringger has written more than one hundred compositions, including piano and vocal music, chamber music, orchestral music, but also three ballets, Narciss (1980), Ikarus (1991), and Ippòlito (1995). His works are performed throughout the world, including in London, New York City, Tokyo, Munich, and Berlin.