Tilo Medek was born in Jena (Thuringia, Germany) on January 22, 1940, as the son of Willy Müller-Medek (1897-1965), a chamber musician and composer, and his wife Rosa, née Gewehr (1902-1967).
Due to his father’s imprisonment and captivity, Tilo Medek’s musical training was not started before 1950 at the Jena music school, where he studied violin, piano and improvisation and took various other courses of music theory. When in 1957 Medek had the possibility to attending the 12th International Summer Courses for Contemporary Music in Darmstadt, West Germany, this had a forming influence on him. The courses were held by Alexander Jemnitz, Luigi Nono, Hermann Scherchen and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
From 1959 to 1962 Medek studied the piano with Kurt Johnen (1884-1965) in Quedlinburg (Harz Mountains, Germany).
In 1959 he graduated from high-school in Jena, but refused to complete his compulsory year (on a collective farm or in a production plant) expected of all citizens of the former German Democratic Republic. After the deadline he enrolled at the Humboldt University in Berlin in November 1959 starting his studies in musicology under Walther Vetter, Ernst Hermann Meyer and Keorg Knepler. He furthermore attended lectures in psychology by Kurt Gottschaldt and in art history by Karl-Heinz Clasen, the philosophy cycle in theology by Liselotte Richer and lectures in landscape architecture by Willy Kurth.
At the same time he studied composition with Rudolf Wagner-Régeny (1903-1969) at the German Academy of Music in East Berlin.
Tilo Medek lost his scholarship after the Berlin Wall was built. Consequently in 1962 he had to start working as a freelance repetiteur at the “Ensemble der Berliner Arbeiterjugend” (ensemble of the young workers of Berlin) and as a composer of music for radio plays and incidental theatre music.
In 1964 Medek was awarded a diploma in musicology. The title of his diploma thesis was “The Settings of Goethe’s Prometheus Poem”. Subsequently, he became a student in the master class of Rudolf Wagner-Régeny at the German Academy of Arts in Berlin (German Democratic Republic) until 1967.
Since then Tilo Medek has received various international awards at composers’ competitions and comparisons of broadcasting corporations and television companies, such as the International Composers’ Competition of the Gaudesamus Foundation Netherlands 1967 (Todesfuge”), the State University of New York (“Das Dekret über den Frieden”), the Opera Competition of the German Democratic Republic 1969 (short opera “Einzug”), the Frierich-Kuhlau-Competition of the city of Uelzen, Germany, 1970 (“Kühl, nicht lau”, No. 2 the “Lesarten an zwei Klavieren”), the 22ème Tribune Internationale des Compositeurs of the UNESCO, Paris 1975 (“Kindermesse”), the Prix Folklorique de Radio Bratislava 1975 (“Der schwere Traum”), the Prix Danube Bratislava 1977 (the KRO-Netherlands-Recording of the “Kindermesse”), the Ernst-Reuter-Preis 1982 (together with Dorothea Medek for her feature “Westöstliche Wechsel, ausgestellt in der Ankunftszeit”).
In 1968 Medek was involved in the controversy of the “Prague Spring” in connection with his compositions “Das Dekret über den Frieden (Lenin) and the “Battaglia alla turca”, No. 1 of the “Lesarten an zwei Klavieren”, and since then was seriously hindered in his work by the East German political authorities.
Since 1970 he spent several summers of intensive work at Bindow on the Lake Ziest near Königs Wusterhausen, East Germany.
Tilo Medek lives with his second wife Dorothea Medek (Daughter Anna Langhoff, born 1965), a theatre scholar and author. They have three children (Mirjam, born 1971, Clara and Immanuel, born 1983).
Involved in Biermann’s denaturalisation on July 15, 1977, Medek received his “Dismissal from the Nationality of the German Democratic Republic (GDR)” and, thereupon, had to migrate immediately to the Federal Republic of Germany.
From 1977 to 1980 he lived in Adscheid near Hennef on the river Sieg, from 1980 to 1985 in Unkel on the Rhine, and since 1985 he has lived across the Rhine on the Rheinhöhe in Oberwinter outside Remagen.
In 1982 Medek established his own music publishing house named Edition Tilo Medek (since 1999 including printing and binding).
Tilo Medek is a founder member of the “Freie Akademie der Künste Mannheim” (Independent Academy of Arts in Mannheim, Germany). In February 1992 he was the honorary composer of the 8ème Festival International des Choers d’Enfants in Nantes (France). In summer 1994 he was a guest of honour at the German Academy in Rome (Italy) at the Villa Massimo. In 1999 Medek was a corresponding member of the Collegium Europaeum Jenese at the Friedrich Schiller University at Jena.
During the past years Medek has again taken up his work in the field of musicology, writing a great number of publications and giving speeches at numerous events. Also, as 1967 he has always taught private composer students.
In September 2002 Medek began to build up a composition class at the Staatl. Musikgymnasium of the Land Rheinland-Pfalz in the city of Montabaur.
Since 1962 Medek has continuously worded as a self-employed composer and musician.
Tilo Medek died on February 3rd 2006.