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Pulitzer Prize winnier in 1990 for "Duplicates: A Concerto for Two Pianos". Worked for a period of time in 12 tone, later giving it up for free atonalty and using pitch tableus. His music is characterized by delicate gestures in an aperiodic matrix. His honors include commisions from the Koussevitzky Foundation, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Grant, and a Guggenhein Fellowship among many others.
Known early on as a Jazz pianist in the Benny Goodman Band and Glenn Miller’s Army Air Corp Band. Composed and arranged for both Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. Powell taught composition at Mannes and Queens College in NY. In 1957 he returned to Yale to suceed his teacher, Hindemith, as chair of Composition. In 1969 he moved to So Cal to start the music school at Cal Arts.