Helene Alexander Pollak was born in Breslau, in Lower Silesia (now Wrocław, Poland), and her family lived in Hamburg and then emigrated to Chile in 1939 to escape the Nazis. She studied piano under the Montessori system of music and received a diploma in 1942 for teaching and worked with youth and disabled children while developing an interest in composition. Between 1949 and 1953, she studied with Fré Focke, Rene Leibowitz, and Olivier Messiaen. In Europe she became a friend of Bruno Maderna and Pierre Boulez. Between 1963 and 1968, she also studied electronic music and wrote a number of electronic pieces. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1969 and lived for several years in Paris and Cologne.
Besides new music classical compositions and musical theater, Alexander was active in composition for television soundtracks and composed for soap opera. In her later years, she composed several "hörspiel" pieces, or "plays for listening", several of them for the WDR Radio of Cologne.
Selected works include:
- String Quartet (1951)
- Cantata of death in the morning (1960)
- Aulicio II
- Méralo for guitar (1972) (dedicated and premiered by Leo Brouwer)
- Ellos se perdieron en el espacio estrellado for orchestra (1975)
- Chacabuco: Ciudades fantasmas, hörspiel (1994)
- Cuando aún no conocía tu nombre (1996)
- Jezira Santiago de Chile: Proyecto FONDART 2000.
- Homenaje Santiago de Chile: Proyecto FONDART 2009.