Ira Taxin was born in New York City in 1950. His early theory and composition studies were with Ludmila Ulehla, and jazz improvisation lessons were with John Mehegan. Taxin received his bachelor’s from Boston University, studying composition with Gardner Read and Joyce Mekeel. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Juilliard, where his main teachers were Roger Sessions, Elliott Carter and Milton Babbitt. Additional studies at Tanglewood were with Jacob Druckman and Donald Martino. Taxin held teaching assistantships at Juilliard beginning in 1973 and he was assistant professor of music at Briarcliff College from 1974-76. He is chair of the History and Composition departments at Juilliard Pre-College, where he has taught since 1982.
He has received commissions from the Berkshire Music Center, Fromm Music Foundation, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, National Geographic Society, Empire Brass Quintet, and others. He was the recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, for his Concerto for Brass Quintet and Orchestra and Trumpet Concerto; and the Charles E. Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Taxin received ASCAP and Leonard Bernstein Fellowships to Tanglewood, where he was awarded the Margaret Grant Memorial Composition Prize for the 1972 season. He received two BMI Student Composer Awards as well as the Joseph H. Bearns Prize from Columbia University for his Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra. His works have been performed by major orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and by conductors such as Pierre Boulez and Gunther Schuller. Taxin has received several Teacher Recognition Awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Presidential Scholars Program, and National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. In addition to his concert music, he has composed, arranged, performed, directed, and produced music for television, radio, educational films, feature films, video animation, commercials, music libraries, musical theater, and stage works.
Taxin is an alumnus of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. His music has been published by Theodore Presser Company and his brass quintets have been recorded by the Meridian Arts Ensemble. He is a member of BMI.