Phillip Rhodes was born in Forest City, North Carolina in 1940 and received degrees from Duke University and the Yale University School of Music. His principal teachers have been William Klenz, Iain Hamilton, Donald Martino, and Mel Powell.
Rhodes has been the recipient of numerous commissions and composition awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Fund for Music, a citation and award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Tanglewood Orchestra Prizes, two McKnight Foundation Fellowships, two Fromm Foundation Commissions (Harvard), and a Bush Foundation Fellowship for Artists. Rhodes’ compositions are published by C. F. Peters, E.M.I., Theodore Presser, Earthsongs, and Schott.
His music is recorded on labels including CRI, Centaur Records, First Edition (Louisville), Innova, and New World Records. Major performances of his works include those by the Atlanta Symphony at Carnegie Hall, the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival, the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
He is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities Emeritus at Carleton College and served as the Composer-in-Residence there from 1974 to 2007. Prior to coming to Carleton, he taught at Amherst College and served as Composer-in-Residence for the City of Louisville and for the State of Kentucky under the auspices of the Ford Foundation, the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times Foundation and the Kentucky State Arts Commission.