Composition Department

JOHN EATON (IU faculty: 1970-1992)



Selected Compositions

Selected Discography



Called by Andrew Porter "the most interesting opera composer writing in America today," John Eaton is internationally recognized as a composer and performer of electronic and microtonal music. Eaton's operas include The Tempest (1985), commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera, The Cry of Clytaemnestra (1980), a work with over 17 productions, including a joint US/USSR staging in Moscow, and Danton and Robespierre (1978).

In his chamber, vocal, and orchestral music, Eaton expands the traditional tools of the composer through microtonal scales - using a fuller spectrum of notes per octave than the usual twelve tones - and electronic instruments, such as the Syn-Ket.

Eaton's composition teachers included Milton Babbitt and Roger Sessions. After receiving BA and MFA degrees at Princeton University, he performed extensively as a jazz pianist and synthesist. First joining the Indiana University faculty in 1970, John Eaton is currently Professor of Music Composition at the University of Chicago. He was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on 30 March 1935.

His awards include a 1990 MacArthur "genius award," three Prix de Rome and two Guggenheim grants, and commissions from the Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, the Santa Fe Opera, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Public Broadcasting Corporation.

Selected Compositions

Opera and Music Theatre

Heracles (1964)
Myskin (1971)
Danton and Robespierre (1978)
The Cry of Clytaemnestra (1980)
The Tempest (1985)
King Lear (2004) 


Overture for Orchestra, "Tertullian" (1958)
Symphony No. 2 (1980)
Remembering Rome (1986)

Soloist and Orchestra

Concert Piece for Syn-ket and Orchestra (1966) 
Ajax (1972) 

Large Ensemble

Sonority Movement (1971)

Soloist and Large Ensemble

Songs of Depair (1986)
Transformation for Syn-ket and Band  

Chamber Music

In Memoriam Mario Cristini (1971)
String Quartet No. 2 (1987)
Genesis (1992)
Footnotes (2000)
String Quartet No. 3 (2003) 


Microtonal Fantasy (1965)
Four Minatures (1987)
Designs for Solo Clarinet (1996) 

Selected Discography

The Music of John Eaton - Indiana University Press, 1997
The New American Scene, Albany Records, 1998  


G. Schirmer, Inc.