Baylor Mourns Passing of Celebrated Composer, Music Alumnus Steven Stucky

Steven Stucky
Steven Stucky
Feb. 15, 2016

Contact: Richard Veit, 254-710-3991

Follow Baylor Media Communications on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (Feb. 15, 2016) – Prominent Baylor University music alumnus Steven Stucky, who earned his bachelor’s degree in composition from the School of Music in 1971, has passed away at the age of 66. Considered one of the most successful and widely performed American composers of his time, Stucky died of brain cancer at his home in Ithaca, New York, on Feb. 14, 2016.

Stucky won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Second Concerto for Orchestra and received commissions from many American orchestras, including Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and St. Paul. He was long associated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was resident composer from 1988 to 2009, the longest such affiliation in U.S. orchestral history.

Besides his Pulitzer-winning concerto, some of Dr. Stucky’s other noteworthy compositions were the symphonic poem Radical Light (2007), Rhapsodies for Orchestra (2008), the oratorio August 4, 1964 (2008) and Symphony (2012). For the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, he composed Silent Spring, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s book of the same title. He teamed with the celebrated pianist and author Jeremy Denk to create his first opera, The Classical Style (based on the celebrated book by Charles Rosen), which premiered in June 2014 at the Ojai Music Festival.

Stucky was born Nov. 7, 1949, in Hutchinson, Kansas. At age nine, he moved with his family to Abilene, Texas, where, as a teenager, he studied music in the public schools and, privately, viola with Herbert Preston, conducting with Leo Scheer, and composition with Macon Sumerlin. At Baylor University, he studied composition with Richard Willis and conducting with Daniel Sternberg. His other principal composition teachers were Robert Palmer and Karel Husa.

Stucky was Given Foundation Professor of Composition at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he founded Ensemble X and led it from 1997 until 2006. He also taught at Eastman and Berkeley, the latter as Ernest Bloch Professor in 2003. In 2014, he became Professor Emeritus at Cornell and joined the composition faculty at the Juilliard School.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Our students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service, and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, the students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture, and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. The School of Music of Baylor University is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs leading to the bachelor of music education degree conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?