He won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his symphonic piece Déjà vu, which was commissioned and premiered by the New York Philharmonic. In addition, he received an Emmy Award in 1982 for a PBS documentary "Soundings: The Music of Michael Colgrass." Other awards include two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, First Prize in the Barlow and Sudler International Wind Ensemble Competitions, and the 1988 Jules Leger Prize for Chamber Music.
He has performed with the ensemble of Harry Partch.
Colgrass is married to journalist Ulla Colgrass and has a son, Neal, a screenwriter.