Milton Byron Babbitt (May 10, 1916 – January 29, 2011) was an American composer, music theorist, and teacher. He is particularly noted for his serial and electronic music.
Babbitt was born in Philadelphia (Barkin & Brody 2001) to Albert E. Babbitt and Sarah Potamkin. He was Jewish (Anon. & n.d.(b)). He was raised in Jackson, Mississippi, and began studying the violin when he was four but soon switched to clarinet and saxophone. Early in his life he was attracted to jazz and theater music. He was making his own arrangements of popular songs at seven, and when he was thirteen, he won a local songwriting contest (Kozinn 2011).
Babbitt later became interested in electronic music. He was hired by RCA as consultant composer to work with their RCA Mark II Synthesizer at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (known since 1996 as the Columbia University Computer Music Center), and in 1961 produced his Composition for Synthesizer. Babbitt was less interested in producing new timbres than in the rhythmic precision he could achieve using the Mark II synthesizer, a degree of precision previously unobtainable in live performances (Barkin & Brody 2001).