Rochberg was born to Ukrainian immigrants. He studied from 1939 to 1942 at the man's Music School in New York, where, among others, with George Szell, Hans Weisse and Leopold man. As a soldier he was wounded in World War II in Normandy, but was able to continue his studies between 1945 and 1949 at the Curtis Institute of Music with Rosario Scalero and the University of Philadelphia. Later he taught himself at the Curtis Institute of Music, worked as a music publisher and 1960-1968 President of the Music Department of the University of Philadelphia. 1979 to 1983 he taught as Annenberg Professor of the Humanities. Rochberg died on 29 May 2005 at Bryn Mawr Hospital, Philadelphia.
Rochberg wrote, among other things, six symphonies (the sixth in 1987, premiered by Lorin Maazel, a 7th symphony remained unfinished), concertos for violin (1974 ), oboe (1984) and clarinet (1996) and chamber music in a different occupation (of the seven string quartets acquired in 1978 resulting Quartet No. 6 variations on the Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel higher profile ). For Concert Band, he composed in 1964 Apocalyptica for Wind Ensemble, 1965 Black Sounds for Winds and Percussion and 1968 Fanfares for Massed Trumpets, Horns and Trombones.
His first serial spelling he gave up after 1963. Since then, his complex, sometimes pathetic works through a field of tension tonality were - atonality determined predominate in the tonal episodes often. The turning away from serialism dissolved in circles colleagues from fierce controversy. Rochberg himself compared with abstract atonality and tonality with figurative art and saw his artistic development in analogy to that of American painter Philip Guston. His musical language he described himself once as "a world in which everything happens at once ."