Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Adams was educated at Jacksonville University, the University of Southern California, and Cornell University, where he earned a doctoral degree studying musicology with William Austin and composition with Karel Husa. Adams is a composer of tonal music with a strong stylistic profile who employs individual adaptations of traditional techniques. His music has been performed at the 26th Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music, Bargemusic, the Da Camera Society of Los Angeles, and the Conservatoire Américain in Fontainebleau, France (where he taught in the summer of 1992), as well as by such ensembles as Cantus, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. As a musicologist, Adams specializes in British music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His essays have appeared in journals such as The Musical Quarterly and Music and Letters. In 2007, he was appointed scholar-in-residence for the Bard Music Festival, and edited Edward Elgar and His World (Princeton, 2007). In 2013, Byron Adams was appointed one of the series editors for Music in Britain 1600-2000 published by The Boydell Press. He is a Professor in the Music Department of the University of California, Riverside.