Ben Johnston was born in 1926 in Macon, Georgia. He attended the College of William and Mary and Cincinnati Conservatory, later studying with Harry Partch, Darius Milhaud, and John Cage. Johnston taught composition and theory at the University of Illinois from 1951 to 1983. Works include Quintet for Groups, Sonnets of Desolation, Carmilla, Sonata for Microtonal Piano, and Suite for Microtonal Piano, and ten string quartets to date. All ten quartets will soon be released in a series of three recordings by the Kepler Quartet (New World Recordings). Awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a grant from the National Council on the Arts and the Humanities, and two commissions from the Smithsonian Institute. In 2006, Johnston moved to Wisconsin in order to better care for his wife, Betty Hall Johnston, who was seriously ill. Since her death in 2007, he has continued to rehearse intensively with the Kepler Quartet. He is a member of ASCAP and received the Deems Taylor Award in 2007. His Quintet for Groups was awarded the SWR Orchestra prize at the 2008 Donaueschinger Musiktage.