Early advocate of New Tonality. He was known for the dramatic flair in his vocal writings and his innovative use of folk.
He made his debut with the Greater Boston Youth Symphony at age 16 for which he conducted his own orchestral work 'Antigone.' This was followed by studies with the famed Yehudi Wyner and Jacob Druckman at Yale College.
He became the youngest composer to win the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome in 1977.
He was born into a nonmusical family. His father was a physician and his mother was a chemist.
He collaborated with playwright Terrence McNally on the opera "The Food of Love," which was shown on PBS and nominated for a 2000 Emmy Award.