Frank Lewin was born March 27, 1925, in Breslau, Germany. He and his family escaped from Germany in 1939, spent a year in Cuba, and came to the United States in 1940. Lewin studied composition with Felix Deyo at the Baldwin Conservatory (Long Island, New York); with Jack Frederick Kilpatrick and Hans David at Southern Methodist University; with Roy Harris in Logan, Utah; and with Richard Donovan and Paul Hindemith at the Yale University School of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1951.
Lewin composed and edited music for feature, documentary, and television films, including dozens of original scores for The Defenders and The Nurses. He wrote incidental music for plays from Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams, and composed scores for historical outdoor dramas in various parts of the country.
His cantata "Music for the White House" was performed in 1965 at a state dinner hosted by President Lyndon B. Johnson. His Requiem for Robert F. Kennedy (Mass for the Dead, in English) was first performed in 1969, a year after Kennedy's death. Among Lewin's other concert compositions are the opera Burning Bright, based on the novel and play of the same name by John Steinbeck; plus song cycles, choral music, and instrumental works.
Lewin was a professor at the Yale School of Music from 1971 to 1992, teaching composition for film; and at the Columbia University School of the Arts from 1975 to 1989, where he taught the course "Music in Modern Media." He received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and two from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, including a Distinguished Artist Award. He was a member of BMI, the American Composers Alliance, and the Composers Guild of New Jersey. Lewin lived in Princeton, New Jersey, from 1951 until his death on January 18, 2008.