Elena Firsova was trained at the Moscow Conservatory under Alexander Pirumov (composition), Yuri Kholopov (analysis) and Nikolai Raskatov (orchestration). Beginning in 1975 she enjoyed intensive musical contact with Edison Denisov, who also introduced her to Philip Hershkovich, a Webern pupil who had emigrated from Vienna to Moscow. In 1990 she was co-founder of the Russian Society for New Music (ASM). Elena Firsova moved to England in 1991 where she lives with her family and is active as a lecturer and free-lance composer.
Through extensive and wide-ranging studies from 1970 until 1988, Firsova acquired a secure mastery of contemporary compositional techniques which is by no means limited to a single style. Firsova continues to develop the ideas of the Second Viennese School but treats the strictness of twelve-tone music freely, intentionally allowing for consonant sounds in the row formation and placing especial emphasis on melodic motifs.