Louis Calabro was born in 1926 in Brooklyn, NY. He began his musical career while a teenager, playing in professional jazz bands. Without prior formal musical training, he entered the Juilliard School in 1948, completing his graduate and post-graduate work in composition with Vincent Persichetti. He was a member of the music faculty at Bennington College in Vermont, and was the founder and musical director of the Sage City Symphony of North Bennington.
Calabro was the first recipient of the Richard Rogers Scholarship, and received two Coolidge Chamber Music Awards, the Alice Ditson Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and numerous grants and commissions during his career.