Ragnhild Berstad was born in Oslo in 1956 and started her musical career as a guitarist and music teacher. She later studied music theory at the University in Oslo and composition with Lasse Thoresen and Olav Anton Thommessen at the Norwegian State Academy of Music, where she received her diploma in 1997.
Berstad's most important works are: Verto for voice, cello and tape (1992), recorded on the CD Definitely Pling-Plong; Respiro for amplified clarinet and tape (1994), performed during the ISCM World Music Days '97 in Korea; the orchestral work Krets, premiered at the festival Stavanger Specu lum (1996) by Stavanger Symphony Orchestra; Zeugma for chamber ensemble (1997), the string quartet Toreuma (1997), premiered by the Arditti String Quartet at the Ultima Festival in 1999, and emutatio (1999) for mezzo soprano, chamber choir and chamber orchestra, commissioned for the EBU marking of the millennium. For this piece Berstad received the Edvard Prize 2001. The same year she recieved the Norwegian State Guarantee Income for Artists.
As Berstad herself says: "My work as a composer is characterised by the wish to create a sonic space which insists on an intimate, auditive consciousness. Music has an inherent ability to reveal the extended moment. This has stimulated me to compose a series of introverted pieces where proximity to the sound source is a recurrent theme and where the form of the music is the result of my contemplation on the inside of the sound texture."