Steven Stucky (1949–2016) was among the most prominent and renowned American composers. A laureate of the Pulitzer Prize for his Concerto for Orchestra No. 2 (2005), he was a member of the American Academy in Rome, director of New Music USA, a board member of the Koussevitzky Music Foundations and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A valued pedagogue, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Eastman School of Music, he was also active as a conductor, teacher and writer on music.
Steven Stucky was one of the greatest authorities on the musical output of Witold Lutosławski, and the author of a valuable monograph titled Lutosławski and His Music (Cambridge 1981), recognised with the prestigious ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. His achievements in this field also won him the Gold Medal of the Witold Lutosławski Society in Warsaw. As a valued expert and mentor to the young generation of composers, he was appointed jury member of the Witold Lutosławski Composition Competition organised by the Witold Lutosławski Society.
In 2013, he was made artistic consultant and co-author of the programme for the Lutosławski Centennial celebrations organised by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra in London.
Among the greatest compositional achievements of Steven Stucky in his last years, one must mention the four-movement Symphony (2012), commissioned and premiered by two leading American orchestras: the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel and the New York Philharmonic led by Alan Gilbert. Other significant presentations of his compositions included a performance of Rhapsodies (2008) by the New York Philharmonic at the BBC Proms in London and the Chamber Concerto (2010) by the St Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Steven Stucky accepted composition commissions from world-renowned soloists and orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Camerata Bern, the percussionist Evelyn Glennie, pianists Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman, and recorder player Michala Petri.
Over a period of twenty years, Steven Stucky regularly worked with the Philharmonic Orchestra in Los Angeles. Sir Andre Previn appointed him the orchestra’s composer-in-residence in 1988, and he was subsequently active as the orchestra’s new music consultant, taking an active part in the programming of concert seasons by Esa-Pekka Salonen. With young composers in mind, he created the Composer Fellowship Programme attached to the orchestra.
Steven Stucky devoted a great amount of time to didactic work. He was also actively engaged in the popularisation of contemporary music. In recent seasons, he was author of the valued cycle of talks titled Hear & Now, which accompanied the presentations of new compositions by the New York Philharmonic, and in parallel to this he developed his conducting work, including with Ensemble X, a group he founded in 1997 in Los Angeles which specialised in the performance of contemporary works, including by William Craft, Christoph Rouse, Judith Weir and Witold Lutosławski. (rs/mk)