Harold Meltzer was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1966, and grew up in Long Island. He graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College, studying composition with Lewis Spratlan, and then with Alexander Goehr at King's College, Cambridge and with Martin Bresnick, Anthony Davis, and Jacob Druckman at the Yale School of Music. He also studied privately with Tobias Picker and Charles Wuorinen. In the midst of his music education he attended Columbia Law School and practiced law for several years. While in graduate school Harold co-founded the ensemble SEQUITUR, and he remains its co-Artistic Director.
Among his recent works is Privacy (2008), commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and pianist Ursula Oppens; Piano Sonata (2008), commissioned by Symphony Space for pianist Sara Laimon; Brion (2008), commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for the Cygnus Ensemble, and a Finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize; and Doria Pamphili (2007), commissioned by the New Jersey Composers Guild for guitarist William Anderson. Other commissions have come from the American Composers Forum (Brothers Grimm, for pianist Sarah Cahill); the Argosy Foundation (an orchestral work for the Colonial Symphony); the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (Piano Concerto No. 2, with pianist Sara Laimon); Concert Artists Guild (Full Faith and Credit, a concerto for two bassoons and strings, for bassoonist Peter Kolkay, and co-commissioned by the Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and the Westchester Philharmonic); Meet The Composer (Sindbad, for the Peabody Trio and actor Walter Van Dyk; and Toccatas, for harpsichordist Jory Vinikour); the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas (Venetian Women, for violinist Michelle Makarski), and the National Flute Association (Giraffes, the required work for the association's 2004 performers competition).
The Barlow Endowment awarded to Harold its 2008 Barlow Prize, commissioning him to write a major new string quartet for the Avalon, Lydian, and Pacifica Quartets. Other support for his work includes the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and residencies at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. During the 2007-08 season Harold served as Music Alive composer-in-residence with the Colonial Symphony. He has also worked as resident composer with Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. In recent years he has begun again to perform, including as a harpsichord soloist with the American Composers Orchestra in his work Virginal at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall and the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. He teaches at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York and lives with his wife and two children in the East Village of Manhattan.