Born in Coventry, England in 1943, Brian Ferneyhough studied at the Birmingham School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London before pursuing his studies in Amsterdam and Basel, with Klaus Huber. After having taught composition in Freiburg, Germany between 1974 and 1986, Ferneyhough moved to the United States, where he taught at the University of California at San Diego, thereafter, from 1999, as the William H. Bonsall Chair in Music at Stanford University.
He has given many courses and master classes, in particular at the Civica Scuola di Musica di Milano, IRCAM, the Musikhögskolan in Stockholm and the Fondation Royaumont, where he has been active since 1990.
In 2004 his opera Shadowtime was premiered in Munich, and has since been performed in London, New York, Paris and Bochum. Ferneyhough is currently completing an orchestral piece Plötzlichkeit for the 2006 Donaueschingen Festival.