Born in 1951 in Ravenna, Ohio, Cacioppo’s paternal lineage is Sicilian and maternal lineage Anglo-Saxon. He began his first piano lessons at age 9 under the guidance of his mother. His first recital was at age 11 at Kent State University’s School of Music, where he received his baccalaureate degree a decade later, studying composition and majoring in piano. He participated in master classes led by Arthur Loesser, John Browning, Ruth Laredo, Robert de Gaetano, and others. At the Blossom Festival School he coached chamber music under principal members of The Cleveland Orchestra, including oboist John Mack and violinist Josef Gingold, and pianist Tung Kwong Kwong. From Ohio he went to New York University and earned a Master of Arts degree (1976) in musicology. Advised by Gustave Reese, his thesis dealt with music of the liégeois composer Johannes Ciconia, who flourished in Padua in the late trecento/early quattrocento. He finished his studies at Harvard University with Leon Kirchner, Earl Kim and Ivan Tcherepnin. Ethnomusicologist David McAllester gave formal direction to his explorations of Native American music. He received the MA (1979) and Ph.D. (1980) in composition, and was appointed to the Harvard faculty for a four year period. In 1983 Cacioppo moved from Cambridge to Philadelphia to join the faculty of Haverford College, where he is Ruth Marshall Magill Professor of Music.
Harmonic Behavior in The Rite of Spring
Poem to Music: Schumann's "Mondnacht" Setting