Remembering Steven Stucky

It is with our deepest condolences that we remember composer, writer, and teacher, Steven Stucky. Steven was an indelible person in the lives of the people he touched through his work and mentorship. We at Theodore Presser Company were lucky to know him.

The constant demand to perform Stucky’s music draws attention to its engaging quality. His refined and unique style – one that tended to avoid explicit narratives, while speaking clearly to listeners through an imaginative color palette, creative use of texture, and a keen sense of pacing – is evident throughout his diverse catalog.
Awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, Stucky received commissions from countless orchestras, performing groups, individuals, and foundations. In 2014 he collaborated with pianist, Jeremy Denk to create a “post-modern, self-referential opera” based on Charles Rosen’s infamous text book about the music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The resulting work, The Classical Style: An Opera (Of Sorts), received high praise throughout the 2014-2015 season as it entertained large audiences across the country (Ojai Music Festival, University of California, Aspen Music Festival, and Carnegie Hall).
We hope to continually pay tribute to Steven the best way we know how: through his music. We invite you to explore a few excerpts from his catalog below.
  • AD PARNASSUM
    for Flute (Alto Flute), Clarinet (Bass Clarinet), Percussion, Piano, Violin, and Cello

    …one of those “contemporary” pieces that appeals to, and even entrances, those who think they rather not hear “contemporary” music.

    –Boston Music Intelligencer

    BOSTON FANCIES
    for Flute (Alto Flute), Clarinet (Bass Clarinet), Percussion, Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello

    …Witty, somber, flirtatious and athletic in turn, “Boston Fancies” have a welcome sense of kinetic momentum, as well as an intellectually coherent structure.

    –Los Angeles Times

    DIALOGHI (Studies on a Name)
    for Solo Violoncello

    …it seems to lie beautifully on the instrument. Cellists everywhere should take it up.

    –The Orange County Register

    ISABELLE DANCES
    for Solo Marimba

    Steven Stucky’s music, just like that of the great composers who have succeeded in leaving their mark, manages to assert his own personality, to be original without falling into the trap of being hermetic, and succeeds in capturing our imagination with sheer poetry.

    –Passion Musique et Culture

    NELL’OMBRA, NELLA LUCE
    for String Quartet

    Stucky’s work is raw art, not art motivated by narrative. What’s more, it is convincing. Hearing Stucky’s quartet, I don’t miss melody.

    –The New Republic Online

    PIANO QUARTET
    for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano

    In the “Piano Quartet,” two kinds of light coexist. The piano rings like a bright midday bell. The strings convey a softer luminescence, say the fading sun of a Tuscan summer evening… Lovely sonorities and great sheaves of lyrical lushness invite the ear in.

    –Los Angeles Times

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  • FANFARES AND ARIAS
    for Wind Ensemble

    His music is rigorously orchestrated, representational, and evocative without being obvious about it, and presented in easily digestible chunks.

    –Allmusic.com

    FUNERAL MUSIC FOR QUEEN MARY
    for Orchestra of Winds, Brasses, Percussion, Piano, and Harp

    Purcell’s “Funeral Music for Queen Mary” arranged by Steven Stucky is dramatic, tense, highly stirring stuff, awesomely beautiful in its simplicity, almost heart-breaking in the intensity of the pleading in the anthems.

    –Daily Post [Liverpool, UK]

    THRENOS
    for Wind Ensemble

    …a narrative of eclectic and sonorous vibrancy.

    –Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • JEU DE TIMBRES
    for Orchestra

    [Stucky’s] music is rigorously orchestrated, representational, and evocative without being obvious about it, and presented in easily digestible chunks.

    –Allmusic.com

    RADICAL LIGHT
    for Orchestra

    “Radical Light” unfolds in a single span that encompasses a wealth of moods and orchestral colors… What proved most striking here was the composer’s command of harmony, and particularly the way the piece moves deftly in and out of the world of traditional tonality.

    –San Francisco Chronicle

    SILENT SPRING
    for Orchestra

    …it is a memorial to…environmentalist Rachel Carson’s seminal “Silent Spring.” …Mr. Stucky’s appropriate pessimism here didn’t discourage as much as it engendered a cathartic response to a subject that often numbs the soul. A brilliant, if unsettling, work.

    –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    SON ET LUMIERE
    for Orchestra

    …this music pulsates with rhythmic energy and revels in the coloristic possibilities of a large orchestra. Son et lumière is a fast-paced, gripping work with considerable substance beneath its coruscating surface.

    –Atlanta Journal and Constitution

    SYMPHONY
    for Orchestra

    …the sensation of illumination, to suggest light through exquisitely applied color. … No note felt wasted. To hear Stucky’s “Symphony” once was to want to hear it again.

    –Los Angeles Times

  • DOUBLE CONCERTO
    for Solo Violin, Solo Oboe and Chamber Orchestra

    [“Double Concerto”] displays Stucky’s feeling not just for instrumental tone, but for instrumental character. It has moments of arresting intensity, especially in the slow opening Lamento.

    –Philadelphia Forum

    Unquestionably the most immediate
    knockout of the series…an electrifying
    display of orchestral fireworks…

    –New York Times

    SPIRIT VOICES
    Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra

    This is highly charged, dramatic music that ebbs and flows in pace and dynamics.

    –The Aspen Times

  • AMERICAN MUSE
    for Baritone and Orchestra

    [Stucky] takes four American poems… and transfigures [them] up one level into suave, gracefully persuasive lyric lines… Never merely a supporting accompaniment, Stucky’s orchestra becomes a participant, a panorama of color onto which the words may dance. It is Stucky’s gift to carry it off with fresh surprise and delight at every twist.

    –LA Weekly

    AUGUST 4, 1964
    for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Chorus, and Orchestra

    In Stucky’s piece, formidable vocal and instrumental resources are marshaled to evoke, in a virtuosically eclectic style, the passions and flaws of a monumental figure.

    –The New Yorker

    CRADLE SONGS
    for S.S.A.A.T.T.B.B. Chorus, a cappalla

    “Cradle Songs” is a trio of lullabies set to verses by poets from Brazil, Poland and Tobago that allow a cappella singers to revel in subtle and radiant shifts in harmony, theme and rhythmic figure.

    –Cleveland Plain Dealer

    THE CLASSICAL STYLE: AN OPERA (OF SORTS)
    Libretto by Jeremy Denk
    Based on the book by Charles Rosen

    …madcap, hilarious and touching…Stucky’s command of instrumental and vocal color is equally striking… “The Classical Style” holds its own as sheer entertainment.

    –Classical Source

    THREE NEW MOTETS
    for Double Choir, a cappella

    …tinted with half-lights and rich in its middle voices, elegant but rarely showy for showiness’s sake…

    –The Orange County Register

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