The distinguished German composer and pedagogue, Ernst Pepping, began to study composition at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik with Walter Gmeindl.
In 1934 Ernst Pepping was appointed professor of music theory and composition at the Protestant Kirchenmusikschule of the Johannes-Stift in Berlin-Spandau. From 1935 to 1938 he lectured at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. In 1947 (or 1953) he was nominated Professor for Church Music and, being appointed as professor of composition at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, held his lectures until 1968.
Ernst Pepping is regarded as one of the most important Protestant composers mainly for sacred music of our time. By virtue of his lifelong association with Lutheran Church culture, Pepping acquired a profound understanding of German polyphonic music, both sacred and secular. He wrote a-cappella masses and motets. He was a significant composer of German chorales (for example the Spandauer Chorbuch) but also selected secular vocal works, a considerable quantity of organ music as well as compositions for orchestra (including 3 notable symphonies) and chamber music works. A neo-Baroque penchant is discernible in all of his works. He published Stilwende der Musik (Mainz, 1934) and Der polyphone Satz: vol. I, Der Cantus-firmus-Satz (Berlin, 1943; 2nd edition, 1950), and vol. II, Übungen im doppelten Kontrapunkt und in Kanon (Berlin, 1957).
Ernst Pepping received many honours and awards; among others are Honorary Doctorates of the Freie Universität Berlin (1961) and of the Theologische Hochschule Berlin (1971). He was member of the Berlin Academy of Arts and the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 1989 the Ernst-Pepping-Gesellschaft was organised.