Lang was born in Los Angeles, CA, on January 8, 1957. He studied music at Stanford, University of Iowa, and Yale. His list of teachers is impressive: Jacob Druckman
, Hans Werner Henze
, and Martin Bresnick
are just three of the most prominent. In 1980 and 1981 Lang received student composer awards from the BMI Foundation. He relocated to New York and gradually gained recognition. In 1987 he co-founded, with Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon, Bang On A Can
, an organization promoting new and eclectic music, often presented in marathon concerts.
In 1999 Lang drew notice for his opera The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, a work whose libretto was inspired by an Ambrose Bierce short story. The piece was scored for and premiered by the Kronos Quartet
, with vocal soloists. Lang continued drawing notice in the new century with works like Fur (2004), for piano and orchestra. Most of his larger works came as the result of important commissions, including The Little Match Stick Girl Passion, which was a co-commission from the Carnegie Corporation and the Perth Theater and Concert Hall. Since 2008 Lang has been teaching composition at Yale University Music School.