Alfred Schnittke (1934–98) studied in both Vienna and his native Russia, and was a prolific composer of both concert and film music. He taught at the Moscow Conservatory in the 1960s, and in addition to composing and teaching, he also wrote and lectured extensively on various issues concerning contemporary music. Although his growing reputation permitted him a certain amount of freedom in later life, his compositions were closely monitored by the Soviet regime, and several were banned altogether until the mid-1980s. In 1991, he moved to Hamburg to teach composition at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, and remained there until the end of his life.
The Irish-born artist Reginald Gray (b.1930) met Schnittke in 1979, and made several study portraits of the composer from life, on which he subsequently modelled two portraits completed in 2006 and 2009. A portraitist and theatre designer, Gray has worked at the Pike and Gate Theatres in Dublin and the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith as well as having one-man exhibitions in Dublin, London, New York and Paris. Although most of his portraits are of writers, artists and actors, he has also produced portraits of John Tavener and Arvo Pärt.