John Melby (b. 1941) began his musical studies as a trombonist/violinist/violist while still a child. He attended the Curtis Institute of Music, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University. His composition teachers include Henry Weinberg, George Crumb, Peter Westergaard, J. K. Randall, and Milton Babbitt. In 1973 he was appointed to the Composition/Theory faculty in the School of Music of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was Professor of Music until his retirement in August of 1997 and where he now holds the title of Professor Emeritus. He currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts.
John Melby is best known for his music written for computer-synthesized sounds. His compositions have won numerous awards and have been widely performed both in the United States and abroad. He has been the recipient of an NEA Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, an associateship in the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study, and numerous other grants and awards, including First Prize in 1979, at the International Electroacoustic Music Awards (Bourges, France).
In recent years, he has composed a series of concerti for various instruments with computer-synthesized sounds. His other compositions in his catalog include two piano sonatas, three string quartets (the most recent of which includes tape), songs for voice and piano and voice and computer, pieces for larger ensembles, numerous compositions for tape alone, an unpublished opera, and two symphonies. His music is published by Associated Music Publishers, Merion Music, Inc. (Theodore Presser Co.), and ACA and recorded on the Albany, CRI, Advance, New World, Centaur, and Zuma labels, and on a CD issued by the Institute International de Musique Electroacoustique in Bourges, France.
He is a member of BMI, American Composers Forum, SEAMUS, the International Computer Music Association, SCI, and American Composers Alliance. His biography is included in the current edition of Who's Who in America.