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STEPHEN JAFFE

STEPHEN JAFFE

Awards

Works

Recordings

Reviews


The music of Stephen Jaffe (b. Washington, D.C.) has been regularly performed in the U.S., Europe, and Asia by such organizations as the National Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco and New Jersey Symphonies, the Oregon Bach Festival, Spectrum Concerts Berlin, London's Lontano, and many others. About a dozen of his works have been recorded on the Bridge, Neuma, Albany, and CRI labels, including Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Bridge 9141) winner of the Koussevitsky International Recording Award in 2006, and also awarded 10/10 Highest Rating from Classictoday.com.

Stephen Jaffe’s work has been described as direct and involving without ever being simplistic; emotionally complex but not convoluted. Writing about the composer’s Double Sonata in the New York Times, Will Crutchfield remarked that the composer’s harmonies were “rich with consonant intervals, although I would not call them neo-Romantic, and they certainly did not sound like any particular music of the past.” Writers and performers alike have remarked on the composer’s unusual expressive imagination and crafted music, but also on its poetic qualities. “Like anything truly original, it is at once an exploration of new technical possibilities and a spiritual statement,” wrote David Perkins of Jaffe’s First Quartet. "Jaffe's language is comprehensive and allows him to use basic tonal or modal references, magically integrating them with a highly developed chromatic technique. The instrumental writing is brilliant and sonorous; the orchestrational textures are exquisite... My response to Jaffe's music exceeds admiration. I simply love it," wrote composer Yehudi Wyner.

Born in Washington, D.C., Stephen Jaffe received his training in composition at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with George Crumb, George Rochberg, and Richard Wernick, and at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to a Premiere Medaille from that institution, his work has been recognized with the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Tanglewood, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Jaffe's works have been commissioned by a variety of groups, including the Fromm and Naumburg Foundations, the National Symphony, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Citing his “eloquent and original voice,” in 1989 Brandeis University awarded him its Creative Arts Citation, and in 1991, Jaffe received the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award for his 32-minute First Quartet written for the Ciompi Quartet. In 2005, Jaffe was the Classical Recording Society's Composer of the Year, and in 2007, a master artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Jaffe’s projects have included three major concerti: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (2003), commissioned by the National Symphony (Leonard Slatkin, Music Director), for the orchestra’s principal cellist David Hardy; Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, written for Nicholas Kitchen, recorded for Bridge by Gregory Fulkerson, violin, and the Odense, Denmark Philharmonic; and Chamber Concerto (“Singing Figures”) , for Oboe and Ensemble, commissioned by the Orchestra of St. Luke's and subsequently recorded by Speculum Musicae with Stephen Taylor, oboe. Additional orchestral premieres have included short takes such as Cut Time, also by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony and two orchestral works written for the North Carolina Symphony under Grant Llewellyn: Poetry of the Piedmont, and Cithara mea (Evocations): Spanish Music Notebook for Orchestra, based on Spanish Renaissance music. Recent contributions to chamber music include Light Dances (Chamber Concerto No. 2), written for Philadelphia's Network for New Music; a cello and piano work, Sonata (in Four Parts) for the Kennedy Center Chamber Players, and Designs II, for a trio of clarinet/bass clarinet, guitar/electric guitar, and percussion. In the 1980s and 1990s, Jaffe composed extensively for voice, including a cantata, Songs of Turning, and three song cycles involving the poetry of Robert Francis: Four Songs With Ensemble, Fort Juniper Songs, and Pedal Point (1989-1994).

Stephen Jaffe lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he teaches at Duke University and co-directs the concert series Encounters: with the Music of Our Time. In 1999 he was appointed Mary D.B.T. and James Semans Professor of Composition. Also active as a performing musician, during his career he has led many performances of his own music as pianist and conductor, as well as Night Thoughts and Appalachian Spring by Copland, On This Most Voluptuous Night by Yehudi Wyner, Ligeti’s Kammerkonzert and Stravinsky’s L’histoire du Soldat.

For more information, including a list of works and recordings, please visit Stephen Jaffe’s website at: http://www.duke.edu/~sjaffe/

View scores here (roll over to view score title):


Awards


2012: American Academy of Arts and Letters, elected member

2006: KIRA (Koussevitsky International Recording Award) for Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

2005: Composer of the Year, Classical Recording Foundation Fourth Annual Award Ceremony

2002: Aaron Copland Foundation for Music, for Concerto for Violin and Chamber Concerto “Singing Figures”

1996: Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation, Brown University

1993: American Academy Institute of Arts & Letters Lifetime Achievement Prize

1991: Artist Fellowship, North Carolina Arts Council

1991: Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, for First Quartet

1991: National Flute Assn., Best Newly Published Music Citation, for Three Figures and a Ground

1989: Brandeis University Creative Arts Citation

1984: Guggenheim Fellowship

1981: National Endowment for the Arts Composer Fellowship

1980: Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome

1979: Tanglewood, Crofts Fellowship

1976: Joseph H. Bearns Prize, First Prize, for Four Nocturnes

1975, 1976: Halstead and Nitzche Music Prizes, University of Pennsylvania

1975: B.M.I. Awards to Student Composers, for Symphony: Three Lives

1972: Premier Medaille d'harmonie, Conservatoire de Geneve


Works

Chamber Ensembles and Instrumental Solos |  Orchestra and Large Ensemble |  Piano |  Vocal and Choral




Chamber Ensembles and Instrumental Solos


A Nonesuch Serenade (1984) -- 16'
Fl., Cl., Vln., Vcl., Pno.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Nonesuch Commission Award
Premiere Information: Da Capo Chamber Players; Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, NY; May 1, 1984
Reviews


Arch for Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Bass, Piano and Celeste
Available From MMB Music, Inc.


Ballade Quartet from “Arch” for Violin, Clarinet, Cello and Piano (1981) -- 12'
Additional Information: Published: #144-40543


Centering for Two Violins
Available From Mobart Music Publications


Chamber Concerto ("Singing Figures") for Solo Oboe and Chamber Ensemble (1996) -- 22'
Solo Ob.; 2Kbd.Plyrs.(Hpschd./Pno./Cel.), Vln., Vla., Vcl.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, New York, NY
Premiere Information: St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Melanie Feld, oboe, Stephen Jaffe, conductor; Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; April 10, 1996

Movements:
Dance Prelude
Finale
Water Music

Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Study (#446-41199)
Full Score - Large (#446-41199L)


Concert for Violin and Keyboards
Withdrawn


Crazy Quilt for Flute, Oboe and Cello
Available From Composer In Progress


Designs for Flute, Guitar and Percussion
Available From Composer In ProgressRecordings


First Quartet for String Quartet (1991) -- 33'
Published: #144-40215
Commission Information: Ciompi Quartet
Premiere Information: Ciompi Quartet; Duke University, Durham, NC; April 20, 1991
Additional Information: Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, 1991
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40215P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40215S)


Four Nocturnes for Violin, Viola, Cello, Clarinet, Harp and Two Percussion
Available From MMB Music, Inc.


Four Pieces Quasi Sonata for Viola and Piano -- 17'
Additional Information: Published: 144-40544


Homage to the Breath Instrumental and Vocal Meditations for Mezzo-soprano and Ten Instruments (2001) -- 24'
Solo Mezzo-sop.; Fl.(Picc.), Ob.(Harmonica), Cl.(A.Cl.), Hn., Perc., Pno., Vln., Vla., Vcl., Cb.
Commission Information: Barlow Endowment for Music Composition in honor of the 25th anniversary of the 20th Century Consort
Premiere Information: 20th Century Consort, Milagro Vargas, mezzo-soprano; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; November 10, 2001


Light Dances (Chamber Concerto No. 2) (2010) -- 20'
Fl.(d.Picc.) Cl.(d.B.Cl.) Vln. Vcl. Perc. Pno.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Commissioned by Network for New Music
Premiere Information: 9th April 2010. Network for New Music, conducted by Jan Krzywicki, Ethical Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Movements:
I. Steps
II. Incipit
III. A dance around the light


Night Piece for Two Violins
Available From Composer


Offering for Flute, Viola and Harp (1996) -- 16'
Published: #144-40353
Commission Information: Mallarmé Chamber Players and the Aureole Trio, with partial funding from the North Carolina Arts Council
Premiere Information: Mallarmé Chamber Players; Durham, NC; May 3, 1997
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40353P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40353S)


Partita for Cello, Piano and Percussion (1980, rev. 1987) -- 13'
Published: #144-40601
Commission Information: Da Capo Chamber Players
Premiere Information: Da Capo Chamber Players; Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, NY; November 24, 1980


Rega-Raga for Jazz Ensemble
Available From Composer


Sonata (in four parts) for Cello and Piano -- 23'
Additional Information: Published: 144-40545


Spinoff for Guitar (1997) -- 2'
Published: #144-40361
Premiere Information: David Starobin, Nottingham Festival, U.K., November 18, 1997
Recordings


String Quartet No. 2 ("Aeolian and Sylvan Figures") (2006) -- 18'
2Vn. Vla. Vcl.
Commission Information: Commissioned by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
Premiere Information: March 5th, 2006. Miami Quartet, PCMS Concert, Pennsylvania Convention Center Auditorium, Philadelphia, PA.
Additional Information: Published: #144-40506
144-40506M (set of parts)
144- 40506S (score)

Movements:
I. Aeolian and sylvan figures, in a dance
II. Muted interlude
III. Scherzino chickadee
IV. Homage to the breath (syrinx)
V. Push me pull you


The Rhythm of the Running Plough for Chamber Ensemble (1985) -- 14'
A.Fl.(Picc. Fl.), Vln., Vcl., Perc.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: New York New Music Ensemble
Premiere Information: New York New Music Ensemble, Robert Black, conductor; Merkin Hall, New York, NY; March 1, 1987
Additional Information: Version for Chamber Orchestra also available.
Reviews


Three Figures and a Ground for Flute and Piano (1988) -- 18'
Published: #144-40170
Commission Information: National Endowment for the Arts Consortium Commission
Premiere Information: Patricia Spencer, flute, David Oei, piano; Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY; March 21, 1988
Recordings
Reviews


Triptych for Piano and Wind Quintet (1992) -- 22'
Published: #144-40284
Commission Information: Raleigh Chamber Music Guild in honor of their 50th Anniversary, with assistance from the North Carolina Arts Council
Premiere Information: Hexagon; Stewart Theater, Raleigh, NC; January 10, 1993

Movements:
Illuminations
Of light play (Overture/free variations)
Play of light (image)

Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40284P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40284S)


Un Dialogo Possible for Flute, Viola, Piano and Percussion (after Franco Lastraeoli)
Available From Composer



Orchestra and Large Ensemble


Autumnal for Orchestra (1986) -- 23'
2(Picc.)-2(E.H.)-2(B.Cl.)-2; 4-2-2-1; Timp., 2Perc., Pno.(Cel.), Hp., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra
Premiere Information: New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra, James Bolle, conductor; Manchester, NH; November 14, 1986


Cíthara mea (Evocations): Spanish Music Notebook for Orchestra (2008) -- 15'
3(dbl. Picc.) 3(E.H.) 2 2 – 4 3 3(opt. Alto Tbn.) 1; 3Perc.(1st is Timp.) Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Co-commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony and the Nasher Museum of Art, as part of their exhibition “El Greco to Velazquez: Art During the reign of Philip III”
Premiere Information: October 2nd, 2008. North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Grant Llewellyn, Raleigh, NC

Movements:
I. Round Some Spanish Dances
II. Galería
III. Cíthara mea (after Alonso Lobo and Tomàs Luís de Victoria)
IV. Enviado: Beatus ille (after Mudarra)


Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (2003) -- 28'
Solo Cello; 4(d.1Picc., Alto Fl.) 2 3(d.E-Fl.Cl., B.Cl.) 3(d.Cbsn.) - 4 2(opt.Picc.Tpt.) 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Mandolin. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra, made possible by the John and June Hechinger Commissioning Fund for New Orchestral Works.
Premiere Information: January 8th, 9th, 10th, 2004. David Hardy/Cello, National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC.

Movements:
“Mysterious flower”: poco andante; interior, inchoate (Variations)
Bold and urgently lyrical (Allegro energico)
Clever, impish, a little “ugly” (Scherzino)
Fast, pulsing

Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Study (#446-41195)
Full Score - Large (#446-41195L)


Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1999) -- 35'
Solo Vln.; 3(Picc.)-2(E.H.)-2(B.Cl.)-2; 4-3-3(B.Tbn.)-0; 3Perc., Pno./Cel., Hp., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Greensboro Symphony, Stuart Malina, conductor, Nicholas Kitchen, violin; March 11, 2000
Additional Information: Published: #446-41195 (study score)

Movements:
Allegro vivo
Passage
Variations

Recordings
Reviews


Cut Time (2004) -- 2'20"
3(d.Picc.) 3 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 2 3 0; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: part of NSO’s tour to North Carolina - performances on 10th March - Greenville (conducted by de Cou), 13th March – Raleigh, 15th March – Greensboro, 17th March – Boone, 18th March – Spindale (all conducted by Leonard Slatkin)
Premiere Information: 9th, 2005. National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Emile de Cou /Leonard Slatkin
Additional Information: Published: #446-41246 (study score)
446-41246 (full score)
Recordings


Four Images for Orchestra (1983, rev. 1987) -- 21'
3(Picc., A.Fl.)-3(E.H.)-3(B.Cl.)-3(Cbsn.); 4-3(Picc.)-2-1; 4Perc., Pno.(Cel.), 2Hp., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Hugh Wolff, conductor; March 17, 1988

Movements:
Afterimage
Intrada
Melodies
Tempests

Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#446-41121)


Poetry of the Piedmont (Poesis Piementosa) for Orchestra (2006) -- 6'
3(d.Picc.) 3 3 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(d.Cel.) Hp. Str.; opt. Brass Quintet (2Hn. 3Tpt.)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: for the North Carolina Symphony as part of its “Postcards from North Carolina” project honoring the 75th anniversary of the orchestra’s founding in 1932. It is dedicated to the orchestra and their music director Grant Llewellyn.
Premiere Information: January, 2007. North Carolina Symphony, conducted by Grant Llewellyn Meymandi; Hall, Raleigh, NC
Additional Information: Published: #446-41245 (study score)
446-41245 (full score - large)
Recordings


Symphony: Three Lives for Large Orchestra
Available From Composer


The Rhythm of the Running Plough for Chamber Orchestra (1985/88) -- 14'
1(A.Fl., Picc.)-1-1-1; 1-0-0-0; 2Perc., Hp., Str. (min. 4-3-2-2-1)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Prism Orchestra, Robert Black, conductor; Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY; December 14, 1988
Additional Information: Version for Chamber Ensemble also available.
Recordings
Reviews



Piano


Cut Time Shout for Two Pianos
Published: #140-40099


Double Sonata for Two Pianos (1989) -- 22'
Published: #440-40018
Commission Information: Walter W. Naumburg Foundation
Premiere Information: Anton Nell and Barry Snyder; Alice Tully Hall, New York, NY; June 26, 1989

Movements:
Adagio, senza misura (In memoriam V.P. and M.F.)
Molto maetoso
Veloce, misterioso, scorrevole
Vivace leggiero

Recordings
Reviews


Fantasies, Etudes, and Interludes for Piano, 4 Hands
Available From Composer


Impromptu Variations on a Theme of George Rochberg (1987) -- ca. 5'
Published: #140-40077
Commission Information: Mrs. Gene Rochberg
Premiere Information: James Primosh, piano; November 12, 1989, Free Library of Philadelphia, PA
Recordings



Vocal and Choral


Fort Juniper Songs Seven Poems of Robert Francis for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1989) -- 18'
Published: #141-40032
Commission Information: Terry Rhodes, Ellen Williams and Michael Zenge
Premiere Information: Terry Rhodes, soprano, Ellen Williams, mezzo-soprano, Michael Zenge, piano; Weill Recital Hall, New York, NY; March 24, 1990

Movements:
Blood Stains
Diver
Gloria
Light Casualties
O World of Toms
The Pope
Waxwings

Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#141-40032S)


Four Songs with Ensemble (1988) -- 21'
Mezzo-sop., A.Fl.(Fl.), Vla., Vcl., Pno.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: An Appalachian Summer and the North Carolina Arts Council
Premiere Information: Broyhill Ensemble, Katherine Ciesinksi, mezzo-soprano; July 24, 1988
Recordings


Homage to the Breath Instrumental and Vocal Meditations for Mezzo-soprano and Ten Players (2001) -- 24'
Solo Mezzo-sop.; Fl.(Picc.), Ob.(Harmonica), Cl.(A.Cl.), Hn., Perc., Pno., Vln., Vla., Vcl., Cb.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Barlow Endowment for Music Composition in honor of the 25th anniversary of the 20th Century Consort
Premiere Information: 20th Century Consort, Milagro Vargas, mezzo-soprano; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; November 10, 2001
Additional Information: Third Movement text by Thich Nhat Hanh

Movements:
Homage to the Breath
Ostinato Elegaico
Running Pulse

Recordings

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#446-41170)


Pedal Point Four Songs on Poems by Mary Oliver and Robert Francis (1989, rev.1993) -- 20'
Baritone, 3Vla., 4Vcl., Hp., Timp.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Duke University Ensemble, Tonu Kalam, conductor, Peter Becker, baritone; Duke University; May 25, 1994

Movements:
Antiphonal Prelude
Boy Riding Forward Backward
Chorale
Interlude (Hp., Str Quartet)
Moment (Timpani)
Pedal Point
Spell
The Buddha’s Last Instruction

Reviews


Songs of Turning for Soprano and Baritone Soli, Chorus, and Chamber Orchestra
Available From Composer In ProgressReviews


The Reassurance for Soprano and Piano
Available From Composer


Three Images for SATB Chorus and Soloists with Chamber Orchestra and Narrator -- 15'
Narrator, SATB Chorus and Soloists; 3Tbn., Pno., 2Perc., Str. (4-0-4-2-1)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Moravian College Choir
Premiere Information: Swarthmore College Choir and Chamber Orchestra, Stephen Jaffe, conductor; Swarthmore, PA; December 7, 1979

Movements:
Cancion del Naranjo Seco
Look Down Fair Moon
Out at Sea


Three Yiddish Songs for Mezzo-soprano and Orchestra or Chamber Orchestra -- 23'
Solo Mezzo-sop.; 2(Picc.)-0-2(B.Cl.)-1; 2-1-1-0; 2Perc., Hp., Pno./Cel., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Penn Composers Guild; Philadelphia, PA; April 24, 1977


Recordings


Homage to the Breath Instrumental and Vocal Meditations for Mezzo-soprano and Ten Players


Bridge Records 9512: Stephen Jaffe
Milagro Vargas, Mezzo-soprano; 21st Century Consort, Christopher Kendall conductor



Concerto for Cello and Orchestra


Bridge Records 9512: Stephen Jaffe
David Hardy, Cello; Odense Symphony Orchestra, Paul Mann, conductor



Cut Time


Bridge Records 9512: Stephen Jaffe
North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, Grant Llewellyn, conductor



Poetry of the Piedmont (Poesis Piementosa) for Orchestra


Bridge Records 9512: Stephen Jaffe
North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, Grant Llewellyn conductor



Impromptu Variations on a Theme of George Rochberg


Albany Records TROY 231: Strange Attractions
Patricia Goodson, piano



Fort Juniper Songs Seven Poems of Robert Francis for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano and Piano


Albany Records TROY 172: To Sun, To Feast & To Converse: New American Music for Vocal Duet
Terry Rhodes, soprano, Ellen Williams, mezzo-soprano, Stephen Jaffe, piano.



Three Figures and a Ground for Flute and Piano


Arizona State University Recordings Designs
Christine Gustafson flute, Lisa Emenheiser Logan, piano



Neuma Records 450-88: The Now and Present Flute
Patricia Spencer, flute, Linda Hall, piano.



First Quartet for String Quartet


Albany Records TROY 073: American String Quartets
Ciompi Quartet



Offering for Flute, Viola and Harp



Mallarme Chamber Players: Anna Wilson, flute, Jonathan Bagg, viola and Jacquelyn Bartlet, harp



Spinoff for Guitar


GMR 3193: Guitar in USA
Phillipe Azoulay, guitar



Bridge Records No. 9084: New Dance, 18 Dances for Guitar
David Starobin, guitar.



Chamber Concerto ("Singing Figures") for Solo Oboe and Chamber Ensemble


Bridge Records BCD 9141: Stephen Jaffe, Vol. 2
Stephen Taylor, oboe and Speculum Musicae, William Purvis, conductor



Concerto for Violin and Orchestra


Bridge Records BCD 9141: Stephen Jaffe, Vol. 2
Gregory Fulkerson, violin, Odense Philharmonic, Donald Palma, conductor



Four Songs with Ensemble


Bridge Records No. 9047: Stephen Jaffe
Speculum Musicae, William Purvis, conductor, D’Anna Fortunato, mezzo-soprano



The Rhythm of the Running Plough for Chamber Orchestra


Bridge Records No. 9047: Stephen Jaffe
Prism Orchestra, Robert Black, conductor.



Designs for Flute, Guitar and Percussion


Arizona State University Recordings Designs
Christine Gustafson, flute, William Anderson, guitar, Christopher Deane, percussion



Double Sonata for Two Pianos


Bridge Records No. 9047: Stephen Jaffe
Anton Nel and Barry Snyder, pianos.



Reviews


Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

"The most impressive work on this disc is the large-scale, 32-minute Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. In four movements, brilliantly performed by David Hardy, principal cello of the National Symphony, with the Odense Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann, this concerto exploits all the technical and expressive resources of the cello. The orchestration is particularly imaginative, featuring soloist set against shifting groups of instruments including mandolin and steel drums. Jaffe's brilliant orchestration and accessible tonal language make this work a notable addition to the repertoire. The performances are excellent and recording quality of this CD is first rate. I recommend this disc to anyone interested in 21st century American Music."

-American String Teacher


Fort Juniper Songs Seven Poems of Robert Francis for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano and Piano

"The most powerful and strongest feeling is derived from listening to a cycle of seven works set to words from Robert Francis Fort Juniper Songs by Stephen Jaffe...his songs combine intellectualism with emotionalism, irony with dramaticism, and very careful treatment of poetry with modern musical language… Fort Juniper Songs is quite an autonomic composition, with very original concepts, free from eclectic elements quite often seen in American music."

-Marta Szoka, Ruch Muzyczny (Poland)

"…skillful settings of the alternatively playful and poignantly metaphoric poetry of Robert Francis."

-Courtenay V. Cauble, New Haven Register

"Jaffe masterfully captures the essence of each poem, presenting the text without musical gimmicks, yet creating a convincing sonic atmosphere for this memorable poetry. The composer’s writing style is extremely versatile, angular yet having a discernable form that makes these complex songs highly effective. The piano is used to create moods... The vocal writing encompasses a wide variety of pitches and dynamics...A tour de force for both singers and pianist..."

-Sharon Mabry, Journal of Singing


Three Figures and a Ground for Flute and Piano

"...truly original writing that never over-stepped conventional bounds, yet never sounded conventional, either."

-John Rockwell, New York Times


First Quartet for String Quartet

"This work of irreproachable workmanship utilizes a grand profusion of thematic ideas. The indications ‘Bold', ‘Sportive', ’Breathing', or ‘Rapid' give care to affirm the unusual clarity of a work to get to know."

-Franck Mallett, Le Monde de la Musique

"Jaffe’s First Quartet was the crowd-pleaser. Its romantic lyricism, its organization, its long solos for each instrument and its lush textures made it seem like a work from the early years of this century, but heard with fresh ears."

-Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Inquirer

"There is something truly original about the work of Stephen Jaffe. Emphasis on the word truly. ...Without a score or a chance at a second hearing, an intelligent analysis is impossible. But it was never dull, never easy, never repetitive, and it left me wanting to hear it again. Like anything truly original, it is at once an exploration of new technical possibilities and a spiritual statement."

-David Perkins, Raleigh News & Observer

"...demands much, but gives back in like measure. It is a curious, clever, yet moving landscape of sound."

-Nancy R. Ping-Robbins, Raleigh News & Observer


Triptych for Piano and Wind Quintet

"...the second movement captured the various colors of light, not just with the special instrumental effects, but also with Hexagon's ability with color. Six instruments combined to produce what seemed like six hundred textures with various timbres and effects."

-Donald Callen Freed, Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, NE)


Offering for Flute, Viola and Harp

"Stretching across a 16-minute span, the single-movement work covers a lot of territory, ranging from a slow, quiet introduction with haunting rhythmic figures in the viola to a series of emotionally wrenching climaxes of great power that involve all three players. All this is woven around a prominent harp part demanding exceptional dexterity that seems to be the musical and spiritual core of the piece... warmly received."

-John W. Lambert, The Spectator (Raleigh, NC)

"...delightful fantasy...the novelty of the music inspired the players... it has a natural and dramatic progression, sustaining meditative passages without lapsing into the realms of the dull and static."

-Philip Kennicott, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Chamber Concerto ("Singing Figures") for Solo Oboe and Chamber Ensemble

"It is delicately structured, highly refined music with immediate appeal…A "Must!""

-Bob McQuiston, www.towerrecords.com

"…an equally attractive piece. The solo part is written for oboe, and is superlatively performed by Stephen Taylor. The interplay between harpsichordist Stephen Beck and pianist Stephen Gosling is of particular interest."

-Christian Carey

"…an intriguing study in how many different varieties of tone color you can get from six instruments…The writing for the oboe varies from solemn, lyrical and poignant to impudent and brash."

-Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Society- www.mindspring.com/~chucksaudio

"The work is well designed, original, contemporary in harmony and rhythms, and unusual in tone colors... The performance was exciting and the audience’s applause resulted in an encore."

-C.S.J., The Spectator (Raleigh, NC)

"...a good natured and essentially lyrical work for oboe, strings, piano, harpsichord, and celesta. An enlivening feature of the scoring is Mr. Jaffe’s use of the harpsichord, which sounds slightly incongruous in this setting, not least when it mirrors some of the more aggressive figures in the oboe line. Stephen Taylor..gave a beautifully polished performance of the prominent oboe part."

-Allen Kozzin, New York Times


Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

"…An impressive piece, demonstrating the composer's masterful handling of orchestral color and instrumental deployment."

-Christian Carey, www.splendidzine.com

"His music has a way of reconciling opposites: dense and light, serious and witty, complex and transparent, terse and expansive, playful and challenging to perform. Remarkable is the way the violin seems to always recover its equilibrium after sudden onslaughts from the brass and percussion, especially in the opening movement, singing, leaping, or soaring with a spontaneous lyrical impulse."

-Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Society- www.mindspring.com/~chucksaudio

"…full of variety and very appealing. ...big, colorful, and exciting - the work of a master orchestrator and a master composer... the distinguishing characteristics are the rich variety of the scoring, the eloquent woodwind, brass and percussion parts, the clear definition of the strings, and the ingenious way the solo passages have been integrated into the fabric of the music. ...This is a happy, often joyous score, one that should certainly enjoy a fine life of its own. Those who attended its birth in Greensboro ought to take pride in having been present at an important launching."

-John Lambert, Spectator on Line (Raleigh, NC)

"…his concerto sets modern musical accents against some passages which would not have been out of place in the Romantic era..Jaffe..is rehashing nothing. His music speaks in a voice clearly of the present, yet juxtaposed against earlier musical traditions."

-Abe Jones, Greensboro News & Record

"…Highly imaginative…calling for some very exotic percussion, including steel drums, the exquisite violin part floats over an intricately colored, late romantic sounding, orchestral landscape."

-Bob McQuiston, www.towerrecords.com


Four Images for Orchestra

"...the divided orchestra proposes a distinctive sonorous atmosphere as the basis for the growth of each of the four pieces."

-Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Inquirer

"... a stunning contemporary work, colorfully orchestrated, intense and interesting."

-Joseph Szostak, The Register (Bordentown, NJ)


A Nonesuch Serenade

"…often intense…[an] overall attractive work in which there is some refreshing and decidedly unanticipated utilization of the instruments."

-John Lambert, The Spectator (Raleigh, NC)


Pedal Point Four Songs on Poems by Mary Oliver and Robert Francis

"The music is magnificent. Jaffe seems to have a special gift for setting poetry, so I hope he does lots of songs and song cycles in the years to come. The comparative darkness of this latest work gives its special appeal. There are times when Jaffe’s intricate accompaniments suggest nothing less that Strauss’ autumnal study for 23 solo strings, ‘Metamorphosen’..."

-John Lambert, The Spectator (Raleigh, NC)


The Rhythm of the Running Plough for Chamber Orchestra

"It is a wonderful, flowing piece, lyrical and intense."

-John Lambert, The Spectator (Raleigh, NC)


The Rhythm of the Running Plough for Chamber Ensemble

"...a gentle work of warm expressiveness. The writing is free, eminently musical and unselfconscious."

-Robert Commanday, San Francisco Chronicle


Double Sonata for Two Pianos

"...a work really imagined for what two pianos and two pianists can do...the whole piece is chock full of ideas and uncommonly assured in activating those ideas... the performance was a knockout."

-Richard Dyer, Boston Globe

"...a large ambitious work in four movements, full of bristling energy: jaunty, faintly jazzy rhythms, myriad virtuosic challenges for the players, and a bracing, hyperactive kaleidoscopic jangle."

-Tim Page, Newsday

"...its slow movement is a tribute to the composers Morton Feldman and Vincent Persichetti, and yoked together something of Feldman's ruminative style and Persichetti's trenchant harmonizations. The outer movements were brisk, rich in detail, and cast in a prickly, compelling chromaticism."

-Allen Kozzin, New York Times

"…had that special undefinable quality that makes a listener eager to hear a piece again. It gives both a feeling of being fully intelligible on the first hearing and an impression that subtleties and added delights might lie in wait to reveal themselves on further acquaintance... There is atmosphere (especially in the haunting slow movement) and genuine wit…"

-Will Crutchfield, New York Times


Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

"…a virtuoso piece with genuine intellectual aspirations, combining rapt lyricism with a sense of sonic adventure…expertly made, original in form and utterance."

-Tim Page, The Washington Post

"David Hardy's performance was both electrifying and though provoking, and left many listeners wanting to hear the piece again…Jaffe's Cello Concerto showcases the versatility and lyricism of the cello…As challenging as it was to learn, Hardy believed that it was well worth it. "Everything [Stephen] wrote had a purpose; it wasn't there just to show off.""

-Hyun Sun Kim, www.kindercello.org

"Stephen Jaffe's Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra…packs all sorts of ideas and instrumental effect into 30 minutes. The style is complex, unpredictable and riveting."

-Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun


Songs of Turning for Soprano and Baritone Soli, Chorus, and Chamber Orchestra

"...Stephen Jaffe's works can thunder but also dazzle with their precise attention to poetic texts being beautifully sung."

-Andrew Bartlett, Eugene Weekly

"...Jaffe said his intent was "crossing sacred and secular boundaries." His use of text from such sources as Ann Landers, Denise Levertov, and the Book of Jeremiah underscored this ecumenical flavor...His setting of Mary Oliver's ‘The Buddha's Last Instruction' is a jewel all by itself, and the closing ‘Transformations' with its exquisite choral segment of poetry by Denise Levertov, truly lifted the heart."

-Karen Kammerer, Oregon Register-Guard




Page last updated March 14, 2012