Ernst-Lothar von Knorr lived in Germany from 1896 to 1973. He wrote over 100 compositions in his lifetime. In his youth, all signs pointed to a soloist's career for von Knorr when the 11-year-old violinist was growing up in Bonn and was accepted at the Cologne Conservatory where he studied violin, tone composition and directing. Just two years later his first composition was made public.
Similarly to other masters in the history of music such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Paul Hindemith, Ernst-Lothar von Knorr deserves a double honor, not only in composition but also in musical education. He attained a solid position as a strong and unmistakable personality in both fields.
The praise attributed to von Knorr's compositions, acquired through public resonance of performance statistics, although limited, is similar to other composers of this century. Von Knorr's music does not belong to the expounded and often over-accentuated modes and fads of musical movements of the twentieth century. His music unfolds more in the characteristic and justifiable niche between atonality and seriality on the one hand, and the retrograde style of late romanticism on the other.
The musicologist, Ludwig Finscher in a speech on the 20th anniversary of the death of Ernst-Lothar von Knorr summarized this niche in the following way: "The composer Ernst-Lothar von Knorr began his career similar to the same-aged Paul Hindemith in the 1920's, marked by the musical young movement, that is, music of amateur musicians which indluced the re-discovery of folksongs and the pre-tonal polyphony of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, all of which was in extreme contrast to the second Viennese school. This occurred simultaneously with musicologists Albert Schweitzer and Ernst Kurth's re- discovery of Baroque polyphony, which is especially marked by Bach. Von Knorr and Hindemith were very similar during this time, but differentiated from one another in that Hindemith expressed a carefree and unconcerned style with a touch of provocation and a tremendous surplus of temperament. Von Knorr’s music is restrained and more introverted, similar to the people of those times, but demonstrates a very expressive power. It is no coincidence therefore that von Knorr’s main areas of musical production dealt with chamber music, song and choral compositions. The constructive element of von Knorr’s music is especially recognized in the third string quartette of 1969. In this particularly long traditional form of music, von Knorr convincingly blends into the current musical style and demonstrates through this masterful composition his abilities to balance passion together with depth, counterpoint and tonality which unite in four contrasting sets that result in a complex but directly understandable instrumental cycle”.
Since his death in 1973, his wife Britt-Gun von Knorr has continued to promote his music through the Ernst-Lothar von Knorr Stiftung (Foundation).