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In his career as a composer and intellectual, Steven Stucky rose to the top ranks in his field: winner of the Pulitzer Prize, composer-in-residence and consulting composer for new music for the Los Angeles Philharmonic for an astounding twenty-one years, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recipient of numerous awards including two Grammy Awards and a host of prestigious fellowships and residencies. Stucky served as the director of Composition Studies at the Aspen Music Festival and, it had been recently announced, the director of the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood. Beyond these markers of greatness, Stucky was, as Professor of Performance Xak Bjerken remembers, “a generous person, great composer, wonderful teacher, and model musical citizen.”
During his career Stucky often found ways to forge musical bridges with sister institutions. He co-founded and served as artistic director for Ensemble X, a groundbreaking collaborative ensemble of faculty from Cornell and Ithaca College. Despite the challenges of treating his illness, Stucky was an active presence in our musical community until just a few days ago. Bjerken adds that “he went out of his way to come to the Ensemble X concert last Sunday, and he was warm and generous with his students, who saw him for the first time after his surgery in early December. He was such a gentle yet powerful influence on so many of us.”
In his 34-year long career at Cornell, Stucky’s kind heart and cool head made him invaluable. His impression is left on the many graduate and undergraduate students he taught and advised. He had recently retired from Cornell and was teaching courses at the Juilliard School while continuing to mentor his Cornell grad students as Professor Emeritus.
All of Steven Stucky’s friends in the Department of Music send deepest condolences to his wife and to his children. Plans for a remembrance will be forthcoming.