MacArthur Fellows Program

Milton Babbitt

Composer | Class of 1986

Princeton, New Jersey
70 at time of award
January 29, 2011
Published August 1, 1986

About Milton's Work

Milton Babbitt was a composer, music theorist, and teacher.

Babbitt’s compositions reflected a concern for time and rhythm in music, and the extension of the notion of parallelism of process from various pitch dimensions to the temporal domain.  Babbitt’s articles on music theory reflected similar concerns, particularly with respect to twelve-tone serialism, electronic realization, theory construction, and methodology.  A pioneer in the use of synthesizers and advanced twelve-tone procedures, Babbitt influenced a wide range of contemporary musicians.


Babbitt was a member of the composition faculty at the Juilliard School.  He taught previously at Princeton University, where he was a founding member and director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Center and was named William Shubael Conant Professor Emeritus.  He was the author of The Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt (2003).  His many compositions included Three Compositions for Piano (1947), Vision and Prayer (1961), Philomel (1964), Fourplay (1984), Septet but Equal (1992), and Concerti for Orchestra (2005).

Babbitt received a B.A. (1935) from New York University and an M.F.A. (1942) from Princeton University. 

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Milton Babbitt
October 24, 2017
"Musical Space: Genius Recognized"
Rhiannon Giddens, Yuval Sharon, Tyshawn Sorey, 2017 MacArthur Fellows
Milton Babbitt , 1986 MacArthur Fellow
Ornette Coleman , 1994 MacArthur Fellow
Edgar Meyer , 2002 MacArthur Fellow
Chris Thile, 2012 MacArthur Fellow
Vijay Iyer, 2013 MacArthur Fellow
January 29, 2011
"Milton Babbitt, a Composer Who Gloried in Complexity, Dies at 94"
The New York Times
Milton Babbitt , 1986 MacArthur Fellow
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