The relatively small output of late big band-era composer and jazz arranger Robert Frederick Graettinger has been likened to the work of cutting-edge classical composers such as Charles Ives and Edgar Varèse. Born in Ontario, California, Graettinger studied at the Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles, and worked as an alto saxophonist and arranger in dance bands such as those led by Bobby Sherwood, Benny Carter, and Alvino Rey. In 1947, impressed with the "progressive jazz" charts of Stan Kenton's arranger Pete Rugolo, Graettinger obtained an audition with Kenton. Graettinger earned a position on Kenton's arranging staff on the strength of his piece "Thermopylae." The following year, Kenton began his Innovations Orchestra, which was devoted to the promotion of the progressive jazz idiom, and in April 1948 the first version of Graettinger's multi-movement suite "City of Glass" was unveiled to a polite but bewildered audience in Chicago.