• 1926 — 2000
This remarkable composer of experimental music was born on February 13, 1926, in Spokane, WA. He received early musical influences at home from his mother, but his original intent was to become an aeronautical engineer, and much of his adolescence was spent building model aircraft. As a student Childs worked in a library and discovered Henry Cowell's New Musical Quarterly, which had a seminal effect in awakening him to the world of twentieth century music. He went on, however to become an aircraft designer, and served in the U.S. Army between 1943 and 1946. Upon leaving the army he entered the University of Nevada at Reno and received his bachelor of arts degree in 1949, and it was in this year that he wrote his first composition, a piano trio.
From 1951 until 1954 he did postgraduate work at Stanford University where he studied composition with Leonard Ratner. During this time he also spent summers in Tanglewood where he studied with Carlos Chavez and Aaron Copland. In the fall of 1954 he moved to New York where he studied with Elliott Carter. Childs received his master's in English language and literature at Oxford in 1955 and his doctorate at Stanford in 1959.
From 1971 until 1990 he served as professor of music and literature at University of Redlands in California. He was on the executive committee and National Council of the American Society of University Composers, of the American Composers Alliance, as well as the advisory board of the American Music Society in England. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and with Elliott Schwartz edited Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music (1967).
He is the composer of eight string quartets, five brass quintets, two symphonies, two violin sonatas, and 37 chamber and orchestral compositions.