Ballantine received his education at Harvard, and after a period of study in Berlin returned to the University as a professor of music. His compositions are tonal and in a post-Romantic style, and he often incorporates humour and satire in his work. One of his best known works is a set of variations for piano on the theme of =Mary Had A Little Lamb=. In this piece, each variation is in the manner of a different composer. He also wrote chamber, vocal and stage works.