See biography by J. A. Pegolotti (2003)
Taylor was born in New York City and educated at New York University (NYU). He initially planned to become an architect; however, despite minimal musical training he soon took to music composition. The result was a series of works for orchestra and/or voices. In 1916 he wrote the cantata The Chambered Nautilus, followed by Through the Looking-Glass (for orchestra) in 1918, earning him public praise and recognition.
In 1921 he secured a job as music critic for the New York World, a post he held when approached by the Metropolitan Opera to suggest a composer to write a new opera. He put forth his own name, and was accepted, the result being The King's Henchman, with the libretto by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Peter Ibbetson followed in 1929.
In 1940, he he was the introducer for Fantasia.
Taylor was a promoter of classical music throughout his life, working in broadcasting, and as intermission commentator for the New York Philharmonic. He provided the commentary of the technical story behind the recording of actual cannon fire and carillon for the famous recording (by Mercury, in 1954) of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture - still one of the most highly regarded recordings of that piece. He also appeared in Walt Disney's 1940 film Fantasia as the film's master of ceremonies. He was also a frequent guest on the radio quiz program Information Please.
Taylor also served as the president of ASCAP for six years.