John Luke Rose was born on 19 July 1933 in Northwood Hills (Great Britain). After finishing at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, John Luke Rose was educated at the University of London and the Trinity College of Music. He received his PhD in music in 1963 on a work about the musical language of Richard Wagner.
After his studies John Luke Rose worked as a lecturer at the Trinity College of Music, the University of Oxford and of London, but mainly focussed on composing. Still in his study years he received the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize in the consecutive years 1957 and 1958. His orchestral works were championed by conductor Bryden Thomson and performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.