Born in former East Prussia in 1934, Matthus studied with Hanns Eisler at the Berlin Conservatory, and later with Rudolf Wagner-Régeny.
Becoming one of Germany's most frequently performed contemporary composers, Matthus also enjoyed a close working relationship with conductor Kurt Masur — who presented many world premieres of his music.
Matthus composed over a dozen stage works including Judith in 1984, plus the ballet and opera after Michael Ende's The Neverending Story from 2003. He also wrote 60 orchestral works along with vocal works and film scores.
In 1982, he composed a concerto for trumpet, timpani, and orchestra for the 100th anniversary of the Berlin Philharmonic, and in 2005, he composed his Te Deum for the inauguration of the Dresden Frauenkirche.
He was a member of the Berlin Academy and the Bavarian Academy of the Arts — and received the 2005 Federal Cross of Merit First Class and the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2015.
Matthus was also the founder and director of the Rheinsberg Music Festival, artistic director of the Kammeroper Rheinsberg, and was made an honorary citizen of the City of Rheinsberg.
"I was fortunate enough just as I was starting out to wins a spot in his prestigious summer program Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg," wrote singer Nadine Weissmann.
"It helped launch my career and Siegfried Matthus was kind enough to ask me back for an alumni benefit concert years later," Weissmann continued. "May he rest in peace."
Our condolences to Mr. Matthus' family, friends, and colleagues.