Harman wrote an opera, a ballet and several symphonic works; produced avant-garde music and was the author of a children's book about skyscrapers. He also worked as a music critic, for the Times from 1947 to 1952, for Time magazine from 1952 to 1957, and in Puerto Rico through the mid-1960s.
He profiled jazz greats like Rosemary Clooney and Duke Ellington. His A Popular History of Music — From Gregorian Chant to Jazz was published by Dell in 1956; other books he wrote include The West Indies, a collaboration with his wife, Helen Scott Harman, and editors at Life magazine (1963); and A Skyscraper Goes Up (1973).
Harman was born in Brooklyn in 1918, and began studying clarinet at nine. He studied composition with Roger Sessions at Princeton University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1940. In World War II, he joined the Army Air Force and became a helicopter pilot. An account of his heroic wartime accomplishments appears in Robert F. Dorr's Chopper 2005.
After the war, Mr. Harman resumed his musical studies at Columbia University, where he was a student of Otto Luening. He received his master's degree in 1949, and began composing, starting with simple childrens' songs, according to the Times. He began to compose electronic music in 1954 and returned to the genre two decades years later in Alex and the Singing Synthesizer.
In the mid-1960s, Harman became a record producer, focusing on contemporary music. In 1967, he was appointed executive vice president of CRI Records, which specialized in works by American composers. He was the label's executive director from 1976 to 1984.