He is known particularly for his operas, the best known of which are Lizzie Borden, Hello Out There! and The Sweet Bye and Bye.
Beeson studied privately with Béla Bartók. His notable students include Charles Wuorinen, John Kander, Phillip Ramey, etc.
Born in Muncie, Indiana, Beeson began with music when he started piano lessons with Luella Weimer in 1928, but it was not until 1933 that he began to compose. He decided to become an "opera-composer," influenced by Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts.
From 1936 until 1939, he switched piano teachers and was with Percival Owen during this period of time.
In 1938 he received certificates with first class honors in piano and theory from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Toronto, a very well earned accomplishment at the age of 21.
The year of 1953/1954, he adapted Saroyan's play as a libretto and composed Hello Out There as well as superintending its first performance. From 1955 to 1958 he collaborated with Kenward Elmslie on The Sweet Bye and Bye, first performed at the Juilliard School.
In May 2010, he was awarded a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center.
Beeson died in June 2010 in New York City.