1918 – He was born on the 20th day of March this year in Bliesheim near Cologne. He grew up in a rural Catholic community in Western Germany. His father worked for the German Reichsbahn (Imperial Railway) and was also a farmer.
1929 – He began attending a private Catholic school, where he had his first real encounter with music.
1937 – He switched to a public Catholic school in Cologne , where he received his Abitur, the German equivalent of a high school diploma. In the same year, he fulfilled his duty for the Reichsarbeitsdienst where he spent the winter semester studying pedagogy at the Hochschule für Lehrerausbildung (University for Teacher Training) in Bonn.
1938 – He began studying Music Education, Musicology and Composition at the University for Music in Cologne.
1940 – He was drafted in the Wehrmacht (the German Army). 1942 – He was released in 1942 due to a severe skin illness.
1946 – He was already busy as a free-lance composer.
1948 – He was a participant in the Kranichsteiner/Darmstädter Ferienkursen für Neue Musik for two years.
1957 – He received a scholarship to spend time at the German Academy Villa Massimo in Rome.
1963 – He received more attention and success as a composer (including a second scholarship to the Villa Massimo.
1965 – His opera Die Soldaten (The Soldiers) were finally premiered.
1970 – He committed suicide on the 10th of August, just five days after completing the score to Ich wandte mich um und sah alles Unrecht das geschah unter der Sonne.