Composer Steven Stucky
*

Biography


Steven Stucky
Photo © Hoebermann Studio

  • Interview with Steven Stucky
    about Silent Spring
    (Pittsburgh Tribune)

  • Video about August 4, 1964

  • Steven Stucky is one of America’s most highly regarded and frequently performed living composers. Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, he is a trustee of the American Academy in Rome, a director of New Music USA, a board member of the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also active as a conductor, writer, lecturer, and teacher.

    Stucky looks forward to a number of important premieres and performances in the new season. As a co-commission by two of America’s foremost orchestras, his new, four-movement Symphony (2012) will be showcased twice this fall, with Gustavo Dudamel leading its world premiere in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s season-opening concerts, and Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic debuting it in New York two months later. The 2012-13 season also offers world premieres of Stucky’s orchestral song cycle, The Stars and the Roses (2012), as part of his year long residency at the Berkeley Symphony; Say Thou Dost Love Me (2012) for a cappella chorus; and Take Him, Earth (2012) scored for accompanied chorus, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Among other season highlights are high-profile repeat performances of his symphonic poem, Silent Spring (2011), which the Pittsburgh Symphony takes on a tour of seven key European cities; the Elegy from August 4, 1964 (2007-08), which the Dallas Symphony Orchestra reprises at home and on a three-city tour of Germany; and Radical Light (2006-07), which London’s Philharmonia Orchestra revives in Bonn. Other works by Stucky will figure prominently in the coming season: the chamber works Sonate en forme de préludes (2003-04) and Ad Parnassum (1998), with three performances each; and Rhapsodies for orchestra (2008), with four – two of them courtesy of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, during the composer’s Curtis Institute residency next spring.

    February 2012 saw the world and New York premieres of Stucky’s Silent Spring (2011) by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, where he served as Composer of the Year 2011-12, and the New York premiere of Aus der Jugendzeit (2010-11) by baritone Randall Scarlata and the Philadelphia-based Dolce Suono Ensemble. Also noteworthy in the 2011-12 season were performances of Son et lumière (1988) by both the New York Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony, conducted by Alan Gilbert and Leonard Slatkin, respectively; and Funeral Music for Queen Mary (1992) by the London Symphony Orchestra under Bernard Haitink. Stucky also served as Composer-in-Residence at the 2012 Music from Angel Fire Festival.

    Notable world premieres in recent seasons include Rhapsodies (2008) by the New York Philharmonic at London’s BBC Proms; August 4, 1964 (2007-08) by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; the Chamber Concerto(2010) by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and the Piano Quintet (2009-10) at Portland’s Chamber Music Northwest festival. Stucky was also honored with a 60th-birthday concert at Cornell University, where he is professor of composition. His Pulitzer Prize-winning Second Concerto for Orchestra – described by the New York Times as “an electrifying piece” – was commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2004.

    For over 20 years, Stucky enjoyed the longest relationship on record between a composer and an American orchestra: in 1988 André Previn appointed him Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; later, as the ensemble’s Consulting Composer for New Music, he worked closely with Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen on contemporary programming, the awarding of commissions, and programming for nontraditional audiences. He also founded the orchestra’s Composer Fellowship Program for high school-aged composers. Elsewhere, he hosted the New York Philharmonic’s acclaimed “Hear & Now” pre-concert programs for several seasons, introducing important works and premieres to Philharmonic audiences. Other prominent residencies were with the American Academy in Rome, June in Buffalo, Lehigh University, University of South Carolina, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Eastman School of Music, and the University of Georgia. Internationally, there were residencies with the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia; the Swedish Collegium of Advanced Studies; the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing; the Shanghai Conservatory; and the Taipei National University of the Arts. In March 2012 Stucky held a residency at the Cleveland Institute of Music; in the 2012-13 season, he is the Music Alive Resident Composer at the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra.

    Stucky has also fulfilled commissions for many other major American orchestras, including those of Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Florida West Coast (Sarasota), Minnesota, Philadelphia, St. Louis, St. Paul, and Washington, DC; as well as for Chanticleer, Boston Musica Viva, Camerata Bern, the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, the Howard Hanson Institute of American Music, Carnegie Hall, the BBC, the Aspen Music Festival, the Singapore Symphony, and the Percussive Arts Society; and for such celebrated solo artists as pianist Emanuel Ax, recorder soloist Michala Petri, guitarist Manuel Barrueco, baritone Sanford Sylvan, percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and cellist Elinor Frey.

    Stucky’s music has also been performed by the American Youth Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, BBC Symphony, Boston Symphony, Chicago Chamber Musicians, Cleveland Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Da Camera of Houston, Danish National Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, the Handel and Haydn Society, Hartford Symphony, Helsinki Radio Symphony, Houston Symphony, Irish National Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, London Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, the Nash Ensemble, New World Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Tucson Symphony, and many more.

    Steven Stucky’s Cradle Songs and Whispers were commissioned and recorded by Chanticleer, the San Francisco-based male a cappella choir. The two discs were Billboard-charting bestsellers, and both won Grammy awards. Stucky’s extensive discography also contains Ad Parnassum; August 4, 1964; Boston Fancies; Dialoghi; Fanfares and Arias; Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary (after Purcell); Music for Saxophones and Strings; Nell’ombra, nella luce; Partita-Pastorale, after J.S. Bach; Pinturas de Tamayo; Sappho Fragments; Second Concerto for Orchestra; Serenade for Wind Quintet; Son et lumière; Spirit Voices; Threnos; Three New Motets; and Voyages.

    An active teacher and mentor to young composers, Stucky has served on the Warsaw jury of the Witold Lutoslawski Competition for Composers. His highly-esteemed expertise on the late composer’s music has been recognized with the Lutoslawski Society’s medal and an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for his critical biography, Lutoslawski and His Music (1981). He is consultant to the Philharmonia Orchestra’s 2013 centennial celebrations of the composer in London.

    As conductor, Stucky has frequently led the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group and Ensemble X, a contemporary music group he founded in 1997. With the former, he led soloist Michala Petri in the US premiere of his recorder concerto, Etudes (2002), and conducted world and regional premieres of works by many of his contemporaries, such as Donald Crockett, Jacob Druckman, William Kraft, Witold Lutoslawski, Christopher Rouse, Joseph Phibbs, and Judith Weir.

    Stucky was Composer-in-Residence of the Aspen Music Festival and School in 2001 and 2010, director of the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble in 2005, and the first Barr Institute Composer Laureate appointed at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Among his other honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Bogliasco Fellowship, the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the ASCAP Victor Herbert Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His first Concerto for Orchestra was one of two finalists for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Stucky has taught at Cornell University since 1980, chaired the Music Department from 1992 to 1997, and now serves as Given Foundation Professor of Composition. He has been Visiting Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music and Ernest Bloch Professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Born on November 7, 1949 in Hutchinson, Kansas, Stucky was raised in Kansas and Texas. He studied at Baylor and Cornell Universities with Richard Willis, Robert Palmer, Karel Husa, and Burrill Phillips.


    Follow Steven Stucky on Facebook.


    Much additional information about Steven Stucky’s compositions can be found on the Works page and at Theodore Presser Company.

    21C Media Group, September 2012





    to top of page