An essential point in selecting guests for the music section has been to invite internationally-known composers who could give innovative incentives to the then largely conventional character of Berlin's musical life. The guests in the 60s and 70s were György Kurtág, Krzystof Penderecki, György Ligeti, Isang Yun, John Cage, Morton Feldman , and others. In the 80s, an increasing number of invitations were extended to composers representing the newest trends in electro-acoustic music and performance art, among them Luigi Nono , Bill Fontana, Fast Forward, Shelley Hirsch, Fatima Miranda, David Moss, Gordon Monahan, Sainkho Namtchylak, and Carles Santos.

New guests of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm are introduced to the public by a "composer's portrait" at the daadgalerie or a "portrait concert". In order to provide performance opportunities to the guests – who due to the experimental nature of their work are often difficult to integrate into Berlin concert life – in 1982 the festival "Inventionen" was founded in conjunction with the Technische Universität. It was co-hosted by Akademie der Künste from 1984 to 1994. The main emphasis of the festival is electro-acoustic music, multimedia performances, sound installations and interdisciplinary exhibitions (of music and visual arts). The "Inventionen" are accompanied by workshops and symposiums, scientific contributions and documentations and programme books. Each festival has a specific topic or is dedicated to the oeuvre of a composer. It attempts to juxtapose the newest trends and world premieres with the "classics" of New Music and with works rarely or never played in Berlin such as, for example, "Music for 16 Strings" (1989), a comprehensive retrospective of contemporary music for string quartets.

In 1991 the emphasis was on the chamber music and electronic works of Luigi Nono and John Cage, in 1994 on the early works of Karlheinz Stockhausen. In 1996 the festival was dedicated to the theme Space-Music. The "Groupe de Recherches Musicales" (GRM) from Paris were frequent guests together with the Acousmonium, in particular during 1998 at the 50th anniversary of "Musique concrète". At the "Inventionen" of 2000, the highlight was the performance of Luigi Nono's "Prometeo" by the Ensemble Modern Orchestra and the Experimental Studio Freiburg at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. The programme was supplemented by sound art by guests including Ed Osborn, José Antonio Orts, Tom Johnson and Wolfgang Mitterer as well as "acousmatic" concerts by the BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre) in the Parochialkirche.

In 2002 "Inventionen" was able to celebrate its 20th anniversary with numerous sound installations, for example by Gordon Monahan in the daadgalerie or Robin Minard at the municipal baths in Oderberger Straße . The German premiere of "Le Noir de L'Etoile" by Gérard Grisey by the group "Les Percussions de Strasbourg" made a particular impression, as did works by the guests Kotoka Suzuki and Emmanuel Witzthum, produced together with Berlin video artists.

The composers – especially the performance artists – are inspired by the city, and they in turn inspire people, not only musicians, to produce and perceive completely new acoustic spheres: in 1989, in the Hamburger Bahnhof (at that time still a ruin) Fast Forward ignited a "running fire" with musicians, video artists and construction workers working the ground with pneumatic hammers . In 1995, Christian Marclay created his "Berlin Mix" in a former tram depot with 165 live musicians and singers from a wide array of musical culture . In 1992, David Moss brought together musicians, dancers and athletes in the Schöneberg gym for his piece "Physical Acts". They presented their achievements in individual performances in showers and changing-rooms, as well as in group performances in the big hall. In 1995, Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris dominated the Total Music Meeting at the Podewil cultural center with five "conductions". Ellen Fullman created her 32-meter-long "Long String Instrument" in 2001, playing it together with four Berlin musicians in the Parochialkirche.

The mutual inspiration between Berlin and the guests of the Künstlerprogramm has in many cases led to their decision to live and work in Germany on a permanent basis. The Estonian Arvo Pärt decided to make Berlin his new home after the grant. In the same way, Frangis Ali-Sade from Azerbaijan, the Americans Ed Osborn and David Moss, the Canadians Robin Minard and Gordon Monahan, the Austrian Sam Auinger, Richard Barrett from Great Britain and the Italian Mario Bertoncini have been among many to remain in Berlin.