Born Nov. 7, 1953 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Nicholas Thorne received the Bachelor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1976 and the M.M. degree in composition from the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Donald Martino, George Perle, Pat Metheny, W. Thomas McKinley, and Gunther Schuller.
He received commissions from the Vermont Philharmonic for The Voices of Spring, for orchestra, from Phillip Stimmel, for "From Earth, Wood, and Stone" for organ and oboe, among others. He received a Tanglewood Fellowship in composition in 1979, and the Koussevitzky Composition Prize at Tanglewood, also in 1979.
He won a Rome Prize Fellowship in 1981, and joined the American Composers Alliance that year.