Gerald Barry was born in Ireland in 1952 and studied with Stockhausen and Kagel. His early music from 1979 included "_______" for ensemble, of which Kagel wrote: 'Gerald Barry is always sober, but might as well always be drunk. His piece "_______" is, on the contrary, not rectilineal, but '﹏﹏﹏'

Barry’s orchestral works include the BBC commissions Chevaux-de-frise (1988), The Eternal Recurrence (2000), and Canada (2017) which was premiered by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the 2017 Proms. Most recently, his Cello Concerto was premiered by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra before his Double Bass Concerto received its premiere with the Berlin Philharmonic to rave reviews.

He is well known for his six operas including The Intelligence Park (1981–88) and Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (2001-04). His latest opera Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (2014-15) received its concert premiere in 2016 by the LA Phil New Music Group and soloist Barbara Hannigan. In February 2020, Thomas Adès conducted the first staged production at the Royal Opera House and in May 2023, the work will be performed in German for the first time as part of Barry’s ongoing residency with Theater Magdeburg.