Don Walker was born in Ventura, California on December 18, 1941 and performed his first composition there, a vocal solo, at age 13.
During his college years, he studied composition with Leland Smith at Stanford University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1964. Subsequently, Walker worked with Arnold Elston, David Lewin, Seymour Shifrin, Richard Felciano, and Larry Austin (who published his Spiro T. Agnew Songs in Source magazine ), while completing a PhD. in Composition at the University of California, Berkeley in 1971. His dissertation (Symphony #1) tropes the outer movements of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
Later, Walker earned Master's degrees in Library Science (UC Berkeley, 1974) and California History (CSU Sacramento, 1991). He also briefly studied Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington under Robert Garfias and Frederick Liebermann (Summer 1977).
During the 1970s Walker taught composition, theory and history at Sonoma State University, the University of South Florida, and, Oregon State University. During the 1980s he was Music Director at St. Paul's Methodist Church in Stockton CA, while from 1991 until his retirement in 2003, Walker served as University Archivist at the University of the Pacific (also in Stockton), where he had the opportunity to review and to organize the papers and recordings of jazz great, Dave Brubeck.
Don Walker has written more than 200 works, including: 10 symphonies; 3 operas; piano, violin and clarinet concerti; 14 string quartets; 14 piano sonatas; and, more than 100 songs. These works run the gamut of available styles, from aggressively dissonant to gently lyrical, often mixing the two in the same work.