Author Archives: Stephen Jaffe

Stephen Jaffe

My recent collaborations have been with the National Symphony Orchestra, The North Carolina Symphony, and the Kennedy Center Chamber Players, and have included orchestral works (Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Poetry of the Piedmont, and Cut Time) as well as chamber music (String Quartet No. 2--"Sylvan and Aeolian Figures"). Fortunately, I am also able to pursue recording of my music, and to collaborate with other musicians on recording projects. This is ongoing, in particular with the three volumes of recordings for Bridge, Inc. Volume 3 (Bridge 9255) involved collaboration with the 21st Century Consort, the North Carolina Symphony, and and the Odense Symphony Orchestra of Denmark. I see my life as a composer involving creation; collaboration, and advocacy for the art of music (including education, curation, and engagement with musical institutions).

Fort Juniper Songs (1989) Program Note and Text

Stephen Jaffe – FORT JUNIPER SONGS for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, and Piano Program Essay by the composer/ Created for the premiere (1989) [Complete text follows]             The American poet Robert Francis lived most of his life in and around the town of Amherst, Massachusetts in relative solitude, earning his living from poetry and an occasional newspaper column read more »

Tableaux at the Hirshhorn, with Lisa Emenheiser, Piano

Lisa Emenheiser presented the premiere performance of Tableaux for piano on February 4, 2023. Lisa Emenheiser’s performance, for which I have included the notes, begins at 31.28. Tableaux for piano solo Part One 1. Prelude 2. Resonances (“Rainbow Resonances”) 3. Opposites: (A) Anthem (B) “Hatred Destroys the World” Part Two 4. Jangle Part Three 5. Partita-Variations: read more »

Comment to NC DENHR Concerning Expansion of Ahoskie Wood-Pellet Plant

Dear Friends at NC DENR: I have been following this issue for some years now.  Obviously the Ukraine war has intensified the EEC’s efforts to obtain “clean” energy, a category of which unfortunately includes wood.  Wood pellets provide an important source of employment through Enviva’s plant in Ahoskie, and we should be happy about that. read more »

David Froom (1951-2022)

Beautiful post by Christopher Kendall in remembrance of David Froom.  

American Academy Arts and Letters Statement in Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine

George Crumb 1929 – 2022

Lorca wrote La muerte entra y sale de la taberna (“Death walks in and out of the tavern”), which George Crumb set in Madrigals, Book II.  This has been a big year of loss among composers whose work influenced me.  (I will write about Louis Andriessen, who died in the summer, soon.) George Crumb’s death is particularly read more »

Bridge Records Releases “The Music of Stephen Jaffe, Vol. IV”

      The link above will get patrons to a hard copy.  The following link will get patrons to digital copies.

Trio for Viola, Clarinet and Piano

The 21st Century Consort, among my wonderful collaborators, will introduce TRIO, for viola, clarinet and piano (“aka “Washington Trio”) as part of the Consort’s series in Washington on Sunday, February 5, 2022 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.  The performers are Paul Cigan, clarinet, Daniel Foster, viola, and Lisa Emmenheiser-Sarratt, piano.  The Trio was commissioned by read more »

Pandemic Collaborators: String Quartet No. 3 (“A Tapestry”)-Ciompi Quartet, and Four Pieces Quasi Sonata–Electric Earth Concerts

In nice video renditions, two beautiful performances of my chamber music were presented virtually during the pandemic year.  The Ciompi Quartet revisited String Quartet No. 3 (“A Tapestry”), and Jonathan Bagg and Mimi Solomon, under the guise of New Hampshire’s Electric Earth Concerts, performed Four Pieces Quasi Sonata for viola and piano.  I am very grateful these musicians read more »

Urging My Colleagues to Tell Gov. Cooper to Veto HB 324

Dear Governor Cooper: as an educator with more than 40 years experience teaching at Duke University, I am offended by HB 324, and I am writing to you to ask for your veto of this scornful and unwise legislation. The proponents of the bill say that it would protect students from being shamed. Nobody would read more »

James Primosch (1956-2021)

Very sorry to hear of the loss of my friend and colleague, Jim Primosch.  I am very saddened to hear of his death, and send condolences to his family and to musical colleagues, especially in the Philadelphia area. I am a mourner at his funeral, and an admirer. Cinder We needed fire to make the read more »

Still Life With Blue: feature by the Durham Symphony’s Music Director

Some volunteers are charmed. In May 2012, I composed something of a volunteer. William Curry, the Durham Symphony’s conductor came in at the end of the month, just as I was playing it through, and said “I want that piece”. To make a long story short, in 2013, Still Life With Blue became the first movement of a three read more »

Yellow Barn

In June 2020 I was invited to speak about the late Mario Davidovsky’s series of  Synchronisms for instruments or instrumental ensembles with electronics.  Together with Seth Knopp, Director of Yellow Barn, and Curtis Macomber, violinist and faculty member, my presentation and the conversation that followed introduced a new generation of performers about the background which read more »

Diane Moser

I was very sad to hear of the passing of our colleague Diane Moser.  What a superb, courageous, musical intelligence she brought to everything she put her hands to.  And with such courage and friendship for fellow musicians and students.  Diane was a colleague at the Vermont College of the Fine Arts.  One of her read more »

Immigration Policy

This morning I added my signature to the following letter. Open Letter Against the Student Ban We, faculty at institutions across the United States, condemn the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decision, announced Monday July 6th, that stipulates that International Students with F-1 and M-1 visas, “attending schools operating entirely online may not take a read more »

Reviews of LIGHT DANCES Bridge recording by Da Capo Chamber Players

Jaffe: Light Dances “Chamber Concerto No. 2” MP3 Music Bridge Records Stephen Jaffe’s Light Dances has the capacity, rare in contemporary music, to bring a delighted smile to the listener. In a sense, everything else a reviewer can say follows from that. One imagines that the composer has become accustomed to taking his bows before audiences who read more »

“Culture Opens Us Up” – a Conversation With Robert Carl on LIGHT DANCES and Other Works

An interview by composer Robert Carl on Bridge’s new release of Light Dances (Chamber Concerto No. 2) to appear in Fanfare Magazine’s May Issue. Bridge 4001. To login via Fanfare Magazine: Light Dances Interview: Feature Article by Robert Carl “Culture Opens Us Up, With Luck”: An Interview with Stephen Jaffe Buy Jaffe: Light Dances Jaffe: read more »

Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia’s 200th Anniversary Announced + 2020 Update: THREE ARCS

Stephen Jaffe, Augusta Read Thomas, Tania Léon and Roberto Sierra were commissioned to create new works for the Musical Fund Society’s 200th Anniversary in 2020. Three Arcs was finally presented in performance at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, with Network for New Music and the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, conducted by Jan Kryzwicki on May 1, 2022. Three read more »

LIGHT DANCES Recording: Da Capo Chamber Players Bridge 4001

Stephen Jaffe’s LIGHT DANCES (Chamber Concerto No. 2) was released on December 7, 2018. The very sympathetic performance features the Da Capo Chamber Players and Michael Lipsey, percussion. Click the blue link above to sample on Spotify, iTunes, HD Tracks, etc. The cover photo and the art inside the booklet is by Brian H. Peterson.

A Symphony of Spiral and Light (PARADES)

My newest ensemble work is A Symphony of Spiral and Light (PARADES), for orchestral winds, brass and percussion (41 musicians!). The work was commissioned by the University of Maryland who will give the first performance in May, 2019 under the leadership of Michael Votta, and ten other co-commissioners who will present premiere performances during 2020. read more »

A FOREST UNFOLDING Premiere in New Hampshire and Maine

Premiere Performances: Sunday August 12 at 5 PM (Peterborough, New Hampshire) by Electric Earth Concerts Sunday August 18 at 7:30 (Portland Chamber Music Festival, Portland, Maine) A FOREST UNFOLDING (Collaborative Cantata by Eric Moe, Stephen Jaffe, David Kirkland Garner and Melinda Wagner) with texts by W.S. Merwin, Anne LaBastille, Richard Powers, Henry David Thoreau and read more »

MIGRATIONS Concert Video

An archival performance of the September, 2017 premiere of MIGRATIONS (Chamber Concerto No. 4) featuring Gabriel Richard, violin and chamber ensemble. Many listeners asked for a link to the video of the first performance, which has now been made available by the Franklin Humanities Center. The music starts at 3.20” on the video, and is read more »

Jane Hawkins

Our dear friend and colleague Jane Hawkins passed away just after Thanksgiving. Here is a link to a Department of Music post about her life: At a faculty meeting in December, I read a poem by Zelda, the Israeli poet: “Everybody has a name.” A link to Marcia Falk’s translation:

Olly Wilson

Very sad this morning to learn of the death of OLLY WILSON. Olly was a composer of versatile originality and commitment, and one of the most agreeable and effective colleagues one could have. Olly comported himself with almost regal, diplomatic bearing, assuming with dignity and poise the privileged position he came to occupy by virtue read more »

MIGRATIONS: Chamber Concerto No. 4 for violin solo and ensemble

MIGRATIONS, commissioned for the Department of Music by our alumna PENKA KOUNEVA, will receive its premiere by Gabriel Richard, violin and ensemble, on September 16, 2017. The concert also features Gustav Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfearer) in Arnold Schoenberg’s arrangement, with Susan Dunn, soprano, attractive compositions by Bright Sheng and Penka read more »

Karel Husa, An Appreciation

The following was submitted to Raleigh’s News and Observer, December 30, 2016, and appeared January 4, 2017. It is intended for general audiences. Karel Husa, An Appreciation of the Composer in Our Midst North Carolinians busy with holidays and overwhelmed by the political events of 2016 may have missed news of the passing of composer read more »

In Utah

Canyonlands New Music, University of Utah Looking forward to meeting colleague Morris Rosenszweig, the students and faculty at University of Utah. Lois Martin, viola, and Stephen Gosling, piano will perform FOUR PIECES QUASI SONATA.

Homage to the Breath and Maw

On November 7, Washington, DC’s 21st Century Consort began a celebration of their 40th anniversary with a concert at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, commemorating Nicolas Maw’s 80th birthday, and also including works by David Froom and Caroline Shaw. I was honored that the group–long time colleagues–performed HOMAGE TO THE BREATH, which I created read more »

FIGURE-GROUND receives premiere

FIGURE-GROUND, for flute, violin, viola, and cello was commissioned by Electric Earth Concerts and given its premiere at the Old Francestown Meetinghouse in New Hampshire on July 9, 2015. (In the video linked above, there are initial comments and examples–the music starts about 4’50”).  A previous performance was given at the Duke Gardens in Durham.

STRING QUARTET NO. 3 (“A Tapestry”)

The Ciompi Quartet gave the premiere performance of the new work, commissioned by the group, on Saturday, April 11, 2015.  For New Yorkers, the work was heard April 18, 2015 at the Tenri Cultural Institute.  That program featured Scott Lindroth’s String Quintet, with Ashley Bathgate, cello, and Melinda Wagner’s My Tioga, premiered  by the Ciompi read more »


On April 1, Albany Records released a new disc, ELATION (Troy 1483). The album includes YTTE,  Scott Lindroth’s trio for flute, viola, and guitar, as well as first commercial  recordings of OFFERING, for flute, viola and harp, and FOUR PIECES QUASI SONATA for viola and piano, as well as Creature to Creature, by Miriam Gideon. Performers read more »

Dawn Kramer’s Vignette

Dawn Kramer’s choreographic improvisation on Kleine pop-musik, the fourth movement of Four Pieces Quasi Sonata for viola and piano.

In Lithuania for Juventus 2013 Choral Competition

In Lithuania to take part as a judge in the Juventus 2013 International Choral Competition, Stephen Jaffe spoke on “Reflections On New Media, The Orchestra, and the Documentary Impulse” in lectures at Kaunas University of Technology, and meetings with the Lithuanian Composers’ Union in Vilnius. The talks focused on recent directions among Duke faculty and read more »