Edith Gerson-Kiwi was born in Berlin and completed her formative studies in piano and harpsichord performance under teacher Wanda Landowska at the Ecole de Musique Ancienne.
In 1933, she finished her doctorate under Besseler at the University of Heidelberg with a dissertation on the 16th-century Italian canzonetta.
In response to growing anti-semitism under the Nazi regime, Gerson-Kiwi and her family immigrated to Palestine in 1935, and settled in Jerusalem. There, she came into contact with Robert L achman of the Jerusalem Archive for Oriental music, and dedicated herself to teaching and ethnomusicological research. She worked closely with Lachmann as his assistant for several years and in 1947 took charge of the archive which was then part of the greater Palestine Institute of Folklore and Ethnology. In 1963 she founded the Museum of Musical Instruments at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem.
Gerson-Kiwi served as a senior lecturer at HebrewUniversity and TelAvivUniversity, and was appointed professor at Tel Aviv in 1969, only three years after the department was established. Her research includes a collection of over 7,000 musical recordings, as well as a number of publications dealing with the correlation and mutual influence found in Jewish, Christian and Muslim musical traditions.