Death of a US composer, 76

Death of a US composer, 76


norman lebrecht

March 18, 2021

An early ally of the minimalists.

October 10, 1944 March 10, 2021
Stephen Allen Scott, an accomplished composer and longtime music professor at Colorado College, died on March 10, 2021 from complications of dementia. Scott is known internationally as a pioneer of the “bowed piano,” a technique using nylon filament, rosined horsehair, and other implements to create an orchestral sound from the inside of a grand piano.
Read on here.


  • Greg Bottini says:

    I wish Mr. Scott were still here so that he might describe how one can bow piano strings. Each register of strings are essentially in a flat plane, and are so close together (and close to the iron frame and soundboard) that I can’t see how one could possibly apply a bow to them.
    What am I missing?

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      There was no bow. The musicians gathered around the piano, which had long strands of hair threaded under the strings. The musicians worked in consort to activate their parts, moving from place to place according to Scott’s score. I became familiar with his work decades ago. You can find some videos of his student ensembles at work on youTube.

  • John Borstlap says:

    A sad story but I don’t think I want to know about a composer who tries to imitate the sound of an orchestra with bows inside a grand.