In Steven’s World

I’ve spent the last two months at the Library of Congress going through the Steven Stucky Papers as part of a 2-year funded research project from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council.  What began as a planned one-month visit turned into two, and now it’s clear that there’s enough material to warrant at least one return trip later this spring.  My goal going into this was to write about Stucky’s orchestrational technique and the scope and limits of compositional influence.  I still plan to do that, as well as bring some of these materials to a wider public.  

But what I want to reflect on here is my personal response to my time with these materials.  It has been a privilege to spend time with the artifacts of my former teacher’s professional life—scores, sketches, correspondence, programs, teaching materials, and so much more.  Having known Steve for twenty years, I knew he was smart, organized, committed, and, of course, an incredibly talented artist.  But what these materials crystalize for me is the extent of these traits and how hard a worker he was.  The breadth of his skills—artistic, academic, and interpersonal—is not something we all possess.  Not every excellent composer is also a great writer and public speaker and skilled in the art of interpersonal diplomacy.  An important part of Steve’s legacy must be the scope of his influence, from whole series like the Green Umbrella with L.A. Phil to discussions of harmony with lesser-knowns like myself.  Through my work, I hope I can illuminate some of the myriad means of expression that remain Steve’s lasting work.