Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2004 for "Tempest Fantasy." He was considered a new tonalist. He was also known for "Fire/Ice/Air," a 1998 cantata about the journeys of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Charles Lindbergh.
He studied music at the American Academy in Rome and later earned a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from Columbia University.
He received electroshock therapy to help with his depression.
His family was residing in Buffalo when he was born. He married Wendy Lamb in 1990.
His "Tempest Fantasy" was inspired by William Shakespeare's tale of Prince Prospero.