German composer, music theorist, and conductor.
Zillig was born in Wuerzburg. After leaving school, Zillig studied law and music. One of his teachers there was Hermann Zilcher. In Vienna he was a private pupil of Arnold Schoenberg, later following him to Berlin. His first compositions date from this time.
In 1927 he became the assistant of Erich Kleiber at the Berlin State Opera. A short time later he became repetiteur to the Oldenburg Opera. In the years 1932 to 1937, he acted as repetiteur and Kapellmeister at the Duesseldorf Opera. Positions followed as Kapellmeister in Essen and at the beginning of the 1940s as the musical leader of the Posen Opera. After the end of World War II he became the first Kapellmeister of the Duesseldorfer Oper. In the years 1947 to 1951 he occupied the position of conductor at the HR-Sinfonieorchester. After 1959 he led the musical division of Norddeutscher Rundfunk. Zillig died in 1963 in Hamburg.
Winfried Zillig was very productive as a composer. His output includes operas, oratorios, passions, choral music, serenades, string quartets, and other Chamber music, as well as lieder and suites. He was also responsible for completing the score of the oratorio Die Jakobsleiter, which his former teacher Arnold Schoenberg had left unfinished, at the request of Schoenberg's widow. Furthermore, he made a name for himself as a music theorist with an emphasis on twelve-tone technique.