American composer John Charles Eaton was born on 30 March 1935 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and studied at Princeton. He lived and worked in Rome for eleven years. Later he was associated with Indiana University (as Professor of Composition at Bloomington from 1970 until 1991) and the University of Chicago (as Professor of Music Composition, from 1991 until 2001).
Known for his electronic and microtonal compositions, in the 1960s he gave some of the first live synthesiser performances using equipment put together for him by Robert Moog and Paul Ketoff.
His twenty-five operas include The Cry of Clytaemnestra (premiered in Bloomington in 1980) and The Tempest (premiered at Santa Fe Opera in 1985).
He coined the term pocket opera for operatic works scored for a chamber group plus a small number of soloists, and during his tenure in Chicago, he founded and directed The Pocket Opera Players and created chamber operas for this group. His last pocket opera, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, is available on a commercial DVD from Albany Records.
Following his retirement, he continued to work with the Pocket Opera Players in New York City.
John Eaton died on 2 December 2015, aged eighty.