Steven Stucky, a prolific composer of orchestral, chamber, choral, and vocal works, and a longtime faculty member at Cornell University, died February 14 at his home in Ithaca, New York. The cause was brain cancer. He had composed for at least a dozen prominent U.S. orchestras. Stucky was composer in residence at the Los Angeles Philharmonic for an extraordinary 21 years (1988-2009), and it was that orchestra that commissioned and premiered his Second Concerto for Orchestra, for which Stucky was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2005. His oratorio August 4, 1964, commemorating a fateful day in the life of President Lyndon B. Johnson, was commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which premiered it in 2008 and brought it to Carnegie Hall for the 2011 Spring for Music festival.
Stucky, who in 2014 became professor emeritus at Cornell University and joined the Juilliard School’s composition faculty, served as teacher or mentor to such composers as Julia Adolphe, David Conte, Melody Eötvös, Hannah Lash, Fang Man, Marc Mellits, Robert Paterson, and Sean Shepherd. Cornell, where Stucky had taught for 34 years, presented an April 18 memorial concert, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra marked Stucky’s passing with two performances of his 1986 orchestral work Dreamwaltzes in May. And on April 20, a free concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall featuring the LA Phil New Music Group and guest artists included Stucky’s Album Leaves, Boston Fancies, and Nell’ombra, nella luce. The event was titled “Radical Light: A Concert for Steven Stucky,” after his orchestral work Radical Light, which the LA Phil had premiered in 2007.