Elisabeth Gutjahr spent her childhood in Bonn and Geneva, two cosmopolitan cities that influenced her development. After completing her studies in rhythm and music theory in Stuttgart and Cologne, at the age of 26 she was appointed as professor at the Trossingen State Academy of Music in Baden-Württemberg. She was constantly concerned with the further development of the institution, in the senate, the university council, and from 2006 also as Rektorin, a function to which she was re-elected in 2012. Moreover she has commitments in the conferences of university chancellors, in the regional music council (governing board), in the educational committee of the German Music Council (deputy chairperson), in the advisory committee on quality at the University of Gutenberg in Mainz, and since 2015 in the Council of the AEC. She also holds further honorary positions on several boards and advisory committees, for example the Music Friends of Donaueschingen, the Zimmertheater Rottweil 2002 and the Regio TV Ravensburg.
She is particularly preoccupied with the opposing poles of score and performance, libretto and stage, whereby she is interested in interdisciplinary processes that link music, theatre, dance, language, film and the fine arts with each other. From an early age she focused her artistic activity on the creation of text in context with music. Elisabeth Gutjahr has also organised competitions and festivals of contemporary music and has worked as a music dramaturge, choreographer and stage director.