A major American composer has died, at 66

The death has been announced of Steven Stucky, one of the most successful and widely performed US composers of his time. Steven died at his home in Ithaca, NY, on Sunday.

He won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Second Concerto for Orchestra and received commissions from many US orchestra. As resident composer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 21 years he played a considerable role in shaping West Coast taste to moderate modernism.

As a scholar, he was a leading authority on the life and music of Witold Lutoslawski.

UPDATE: Family members have reported that he died of brain cancer, peacefully in his sleep. Our shocked sympathies to the Stucky family.

Steven Stucky Photo copyright 2005 Hoebermann Studio

2nd UPDATE: A son’s tribute here.

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  • This symphony is a moving, expressionist piece, balancing between tradition and modernism and still finding some common ground, it could have been written in Vienna in the twenties (this is meant as a compliment….). So well written for the orchestra. How sad that his life is cut short.

  • I am deeply saddened by this beyond words..Steven was one of the greatest talents this music community and this world has ever had and a golden soul for the ages. He will be missed terrible. RIP dear STEVEN!!

  • Steve was a friend of many years. I’ve played several of his chamber works, all thoroughly beautiful, witty and engaging and written as if to please–and thus unite–audience, player and composer.

    I hadn’t heard he’d been ill, and his death comes as a shock.

  • Very sad news. He was a terrific composer, and spent a wonderful week here as composer in residence with the Eugene Symphony exactly 6 years ago. Such a loss. RIP Steven.

  • It was always a great pleasure to be playing his pieces and to be working together with this wonderful man and a truly fine composer. A huge loss… And much too soon.

  • How sad! Extremely talented composer. The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble has performed his music often; not a long time ago, he was the Composer of the Year at the Pittsburgh Symphony. With great success! My deep sympathy to his Family!

  • I first met Steve when we were teenagers at a summer music camp. We were roommates in college for a year. I was always amazed by his musicianship and amused by his cleverness. I have many memories of all sorts of good times.

  • A great talent and dry wit. I knew him as assistant conductor of Cornell’s Sage Chapel Choir. He will be sorely missed.

  • A great composer and a great human being. His talent is matched only by his sincerity and generosity in guiding others along their compositional journey. I’m fortunate to have known him.

  • As gifted and talented he was as a major musical figure, I will always remember his infectious smile and his unique quick wit and dry sense of humor. Indeed, a great loss to us all, fellow musicians and humanity as a whole. Rest in Peace, my friend!

  • Steven Stucky was senior to me by two years in Composition at Cornell. We studied composition under Prof. Robert Palmer and Karel Husa. He was a quiet guy. Always busy writing music.

    Years later when I pointed out to him that my name was not mentioned among Cornell Composers he readily corrected that error. A good soul.

    Jerry Amaldev.

  • Thanks for this post Mr. Lebrecht. I first knew him as my undergrad advisor and composition/20th century music mentor at Cornell (and since through performing his works as a conductor), and as his son beautifully explains, he was a genuine artist. He will be greatly missed, along with the music he might still have written.

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