Known for his chamber music ("Ex voto" from 1995), orchestral music ("Las Orillas" from 1990), operas ("La señorita Cristina" from 2000), and film music ("La caza" for Carlos Saura in 1965). He founded Nueva Música, Tiempo y Música, and Alea.
He earned a degree in law from the Universidad Complutense in 1952 before segueing into music completely. However, he first worked as a legal advisor to Iberia Airlines.
He was honored with several awards during his career, but none more important than the Premio Nacional de Musica Award in 1991.
He was six years old when his father died in the Spanish Civil War after which his mother moved him and his siblings to Madrid.
He and Thomas Newman were contemporaries.