The sound worlds of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the music of Schönberg, Webern, Stravinsky, and Varèse, and jazz influenced Mathias Spahlinger in his youth.
Born in Frankfurt in 1944,he learned from his father, a cellist, to play vielle, gamba, recorder, and later cello. In 1952 he added piano as well. In 1959 Spahlinger began an intense occupation with jazz, taking saxophone lessons and flirting with a career as jazz musician.
Then in 1965 he decided to do an apprenticeship as a typesetter while getting private lessons in composition from Konrad Lechner. After completing his apprenticeship he studied composition at the Städtische Akademie für Tonkunst in Darmstadt and at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Stuttgart.
He found important stimulus in Pierre Schaeffer's "musique concrète". Spahlinger found his way to a style marked by rhythmic tensions of sound and noise.
In parallel with his career as a composer he was very active pedagogically, teaching piano, theory, early musical education, and experimental music at the Stuttgarter Musikschule, as a guest lecturer in music theory at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin and as professor of composition and music theory at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe. Since 1990 he is professor of composition and head of the Institut für Neue Musik at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Freiburg.