A son’s vivid tribute to the late composer Steven Stucky

A son’s vivid tribute to the late composer Steven Stucky


norman lebrecht

February 16, 2016

From Matthew Stucky:

It is with a profoundly heavy heart that I say yesterday, February 14th my father,Steven Stucky passed away peacefully in his sleep in his home of many years, Ithaca, NY, at the all-too-early age of 66 in the company of his beloved wife Kristen Frey Stucky.

With his passing the world has lost one of it’s great voices. To me he was a magician. A man who seemed able to effortlessly page back the curtain of The Universe and reveal its wonders with resonant sound and pathos. He could speak through the very fibers of the world itself. He was, and is, my hero.

He showed me to Hardy and DeLillo. Rodin and Chihuly. Rembrandt and Klee. Bergman and Kubrick. Shaw and Ibsen. Le Corbusier and Gehry. Keaton and Cleese. He taught me that grace and poise are the result of humility and to only speak the truth or nothing at all. He taught me the importance of a good suit, an old Islay, and a good meal with friends.

An epic traveller, he saw more corners of the world than most people could in 5 lives and made untold lifelong friends wherever he went.

He was a man of bottomless kindness and empathy. And he was funny, oh so funny, as anyone who knew him could attest.

He was a great believer in social justice and the equal rights of all people. I’m sure he is giving Scalia a piece of his mind this very moment.

And he was, of course, a dog person.

I love you Dad. You changed me and the world forever.

Steven Stucky Photo copyright 2005 Hoebermann Studio


  • Ann Koranda says:


  • Martin Bernheimer says:

    A profoundly moving tribute. Thank you.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    It is a testament to one’s life when their children hold them in such loving esteem and their existence made them better people. Such a beautiful and heartfelt tribute.

  • David Hyslop says:

    A great tribute from Matthew. I was fortunate to work with Stephen during my times with the St. Louis Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra.
    In addition, Stephen had has August 4, 1964 performed by the Dallas Symphony in Dallas and at Carnegie Hall right before my time in Dallas as the interim CEO.

    We would also see each other on occasion in Ithaca as he was at Cornell and I kept contact with the music department at Ithaca College of which I am an alumni.
    Stephen was a class act on every level.

  • Russell Platt says:

    It is a fine thing to see that Mr. Stucky’s son is also an exceptional person. Thank you for this deeply sympathetic tribute.

  • Mary McNally says:

    What a special tribute. Your Dad touched many lives with his humor, especially at Cornell. One of my most favorite memories of my student time there was rehearsing and singing in Sage Chapel’s Lessons and Carols w/ him and Dr. Patterson.

  • KimLen says:

    Beautiful.. I am deeply moved by the words of his Family and Friends.. His Legacy will no doubt, Live on!! Sherry Sticky Clark is my Friend, Bless you and Your Family oxoxox

  • Chris Mohr says:

    As a summer classical radio announcer in Aspen during the summer festival, I will miss Steven deeply. The whole community here shares the feeling that a great, humble, kindhearted and brilliant man has left all of us too early.

  • Scott Stucky says:

    Matthew, even before your wonderful words, you cast a tall shadow just as your sweet father continues to do. He was my hero, as well. As the oldest living sibling now, I find myself moved by Steve to treat others with more kindness and warmth. He has set the bar for humanity ever so high. It serves us well to strive to live in this way each day. I love you and Maura so very much.

  • Donald Campfield, D.M.A. says:

    Matthew, thank you so much for sharing this personal perspective on your dad with us. I was his student in twentieth century music and orchestration at Cornell during my D.M.A. program (1981–1984) when he also served on my special committee. I have many fond memories of him, of his sense of humor, of his profound knowledge of and affection for music, and of various personal interactions. For at least a time, after finishing my degree, we were also neighbors-in-passing in the Belle Sherman neighborhood, I believe. (I lived in Ithaca for twenty years altogether, until 1994.) A new keyboard collection of mine, to be titled “Name Fugues/Volume 1,” which I hope to either publish or self-publish in the next year or so, will include a tribute piece in memory of your dad (whose name-fugue is dodecaphonic) and another in memory of Karel Husa, who we also lost last year. Please accept my sincere and deep condolence on your personal loss, and that of your family.