- MacArthur Fellow (1990)
- Guggenheim Fellow (1965)
- Guggenheim Fellow (1962)
Called by Andrew Porter "the most interesting opera composer writing in America today," John Eaton was internationally recognized as a composer and performer of electronic and microtonal music. Eaton's operas included 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 expanded 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 was Professor of Music Composition at the University of Chicago. He was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on 30 March 1935.
His awards included 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.