Rolf Gehlhaar, born in 1943 in Breslau (Silesia, Germany), emigrated with his family in 1953 to the USA, grew up in New Mexico and California, attended Yale University (class of ‘ 65) and the University of California, Berkeley.
After working closely with Stockhausen during the period 1967-71, he concentrated on composition and performance of over 50 commissioned electronic and instrumental works. In 1974 he also began to carry out research in the area of digital sound synthesis, automation of musical processes and computer-aided composition.
As a result of this research during 1976 - 1983, his ideas led him eventually in 1984 to the development of SOUND=SPACE, the world's first truly creative interactive musical environment, and a commission in 1985 from La Villette, the new French national museum of science, for the permanent installation of a SOUND=SPACE in the museum. After numerous temporary installation throughout the world and live projects with performers and dancers, it became obvious to him in 1989 that SOUND=SPACE would also be an ideal, empowering creative resource for the disabled. This realisation led toward the development of new software and efforts towards making the environment available to special needs groups.
During the period 1989 – 1998 SOUND=SPACE was the major focus of Gehlhaar's multi-media installations, compositions and performance activities, being employed not only as a creative sound/musical resource for the disabled, dancers, musicians, actors, etc., but also as an evolving technical control system for comprehensive, immersive interactive environments involving sound and projected visuals.
At present Gehlhaar lives in London and Coventry, where he is Postgraduate Course Leader in Design & Digital Media at Coventry School of Art & Design, Coventry University.