This paper presents a theory by which idealized models of auditory receptive fields can be derived in a principled axiomatic manner, from a set of structural properties to enable invariance of receptive field responses under natural sound transformations and ensure internal consistency between spectro-temporal receptive fields at different temporal and spectral scales. For defining a time-frequency transformation of a purely temporal sound signal, it is shown that the framework allows for a new way of deriving the Gabor and Gammatone filters as well as a novel family of generalized Gammatone filters, with additional degrees of freedom to obtain different trade-offs between the spectral selectivity and the temporal delay of time-causal temporal window functions. When applied to the definition of a second-layer of receptive fields from a spectrogram, it is shown that the framework leads to two canonical families of spectro-temporal receptive fields, in terms of spectro-temporal derivatives of either spectro-temporal Gaussian kernels for non-causal time or the combination of a time-causal generalized Gammatone filter over the temporal domain and a Gaussian filter over the logspectral domain. For each filter family, the spectro-temporal receptive fields can be either separable over the time-frequency domain or be adapted to local glissando transformations that represent variations in logarithmic frequencies over time. Within each domain of either non-causal or time-causal time, these receptive field families are derived by uniqueness from the assumptions. It is demonstrated how the presented framework allows for computation of basic auditory features for audio processing and that it leads to predictions about auditory receptive fields with good qualitative similarity to biological receptive fields measured in the inferior colliculus (ICC) and primary auditory cortex (A1) of mammals.