Helena Tulve (born in 1972) studied composition at the Tallinn Secondary Music School under Alo Põldmäe and from 1989 – 1992 at the Estonian Academy of Music with Erkki-Sven Tüür, being the latter’s sole student of composition thus far. In 1994 Tulve graduated with the Premier Prix from Jacques Charpentier’s composition class at the Conservatoire Superieur de Paris. Between 1993 and 1996 she furthered her knowledge of Gregorian chant. She has also attended György Ligeti’s and Marco Stroppa’s summer courses.

Helena Tulve belongs to the younger generation of Estonian composers who, in contrast to the neo-classicist tradition of rhythm-centeredness, create music which focuses on sound and sonority. Tulve’s works give a fair idea of the richness and variety of her cultural experience: the French school of spectral music, IRCAM’s experimentalism, Kaija Saariaho and Giacinto Scelsi, echoes of Gregorian chant and Eastern musics. Deriving from her refined sound processing, Tulve’s approach to form is “fluid” – more process based than architectonic.

What gives Helena Tulve’s music its singularity and power of suggestion is the fortunate combination of analytical exactness and intuitive shaping of imagery. The atmosphere of her compositions suggests the metaphysical and existential, and that applies also to the titles, the composer’s poetic comments and literary allusions.

At the 1998 International Rostrum of Composers in Paris, Helena Tulve’s A travers was acknowledged as the recommended work in the category of composers under 30. In 2000, the same year she was awarded the Heino Eller Composition Prize, Tulve started teaching composition at the Estonian Academy of Music in Tallinn. A year later she was chosen for participation in the course of electronic music at IRCAM in Paris. During the season 2001/2002, Tulve served as composer-in-residence with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Commissioned by the choir, her chamber opera It Is Getting So Dark was premiered in June 2004.

Helena Tulve's orchestral composition Sula won the UNESCO`s International Rostrum of Composers in Paris in 2004. Tulve was awarded the music prize of the Estonian Music Council and the Cultural Prize of the Republic of Estonia for her achievements in 2004. In January 2005, Estonian Radio honored Helena Tulve with the title of the Musician of the Year. 

Helena Tulve’s compositions have been performed in many European countries, in the USA and Canada, and at numerous festivals of contemporary music: NYYD Festival (Tallinn), BIG Torino (Turin), Music of Friends (Moscow), Les Boréales (Caen), MaerzMusik (Berlin), Klangspuren (Tyrol), Matrix Herbstfestival (Leipzig), Icebreaker (Seattle), the Warsaw Autumn, Vancouver New Music, Europamusicale and several others.