Robert Kurka was born in Cicero, Illinois on December 22, 1921 and died in New York City on December 12, 1957. After studying violin with Kathleen Parlow and Hans Letz, he attended Columbia University and received his M.A. degree in 1948. Although largely self-taught in composition he studied briefly with Otto Luening and Darius Milhaud. From 1948 to 1951 he taught music at The City College of New York and later taught at Queens College and Dartmouth. Among his honors were a Guggenheim Fellowship, an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and, shortly before his death, Brandeis University's first Creative Award "to a composer on the threshold of a promising career."