Stephen Jaffe
  • Stephen Jaffe

  • Mary and James H. Semans Professor of Music Composition
  • Music
  • 079 Mary Duke Biddle Music Building
  • Campus Box 90665
  • Phone: (919) 660-3317
  • Fax: (919) 660-3301
  • Office Hours: By appointment.
  • Homepage
  • Secondary web page
  • Specialties

    • Composition
    • Performance
  • Research Summary

  • Research Description

    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 third volume of recordings for Bridge, Inc. issued in May 2008. The recording involved collaboration with the 21st Century Consort (an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution), 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).
  • Education

      • (Terminal),
      • Music,
      • University of Pennsylvania,
      • 1978
      • A.B., summa cum laude, with distinction in Music,
      • Music,
      • University of Pennsylvania,
      • 1977
    • Commissions

      • Light Dances (Chamber Concerto No. 2)
        • 2009
        • Network for New Music, Philadelphia
      • Cíthera mea (Evocations): Spanish Music Notebook para orquesta/for orchestra
        • October, 2008
        • Meymandi Concert Hall/ Progress Ctr for the Arts, Raleigh, NC
        • Grant Llewellyn conducted the orchestra in three performances of this 18' work, October 2-3-4, 2008. The commission was by the North Carolina Symphony and the Nasher Museum of Art. There is a short film prelude by the German visual artist, Thomas Struth which is part of the collaboration.
      • SONATA (in Four Parts)
        • May 17, 2008
        • Kennedy Center Chamber Players
        • Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center. David Hardy, cello, Lambert Orkis, piano.
      • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
        • January 8-10, 2004
        • David Hardy, Cello, National Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, Music Director
      • Poetry of the Piedmont (Poesis Piementosa)
        • 2006
        • North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, Grant Llewellyn, Music Director.
      • String Quartet No. 2 ("Sylvan and Aeolian Figures")
        • 2005
        • Philadelphia Chamber Music Society Commission for Miami Quartet
      • Homage to the Breath: Instrumental and Vocal Meditations for Mezzo soprano and Ten Instruments
        • 2001
        • Barlow Endowment, Brigham Young University and Twentieth Century Consort (Washington, DC)
      • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
        • 1999
        • Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, Stuart Malina Music Director
      • Songs of Turning
        • 1995
        • Oregon Bach Festival and Fromm Foundation, Harvard University
      • Chamber Concerto ("Singing Figures") for Oboe and Six Instruments
        • 1994
        • Orchestra of St. Luke's, New York
    • Compositions Performed

      • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
        • January 11, 2007
        • Slovenska filharmonjia, David Hardy Cello, Toshiro Yonezu, cond.
      • String Quartet No. 2 ("Sylvan and Aeolian Figures")
        • March, 2006 - April, 2006
        • Miami Quartet, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and other venues
      • CONCERTO for Violoncello and Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin
        • 2004-01-08-2004-01-10
        • Kennedy Center, Washington
    • Residencies

      • Composers Conference and Chamber Music Center
        • 2008
        • Wellesley College
      • Chamber Music Festival of the East
        • 2000
        • Bennington College
      • Composer in Residence
        • 1996
        • Oregon Bach Festival
  • Selected Publications

      • Stephen Jaffe.
      • HIP Concerto (Chamber Concerto No. 3).
      • 2014.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      Commissioned by the Mallarme Chamber Players and Alienor for the NC Hip Festival. 17' long.

      • Stephen Jaffe, Volume III. Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Poetry of the Piedmont, Homage to the Breath, and Cut Time.
      • Bridge Records,
      • 2008.
      Publication Description

      First Recordings, Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, Poetry of the Piedmont, Homage to the Breath, and Cut Time. North Carolina Symphony, Grant Llewellyn, conducting.; 21st Century Consort, Christopher Kendall conducting, Milagro Vargas, mezzo-soprano; Odense Philharmonic, Paul Mann cond., David Hardy, cello solo. (Bridge 9225, 2008).

      • Stephen Jaffe.
      • DESIGNS II.
      • 2012.
      Publication Description

      for Clarinet/Bass Clarinet, Guitar/Electric Guitar, and Percussion (19-20′) Premiere: Nicholas Lewis, clarinet and bass clarinet; Dan Lippel, guitar; Douglas Perkins, percussion. (Duke University). Beat City (Tufts University). Designs II’s individual movements, Teneramente (Clarinet, Guitar and Percussion) and Vivo e ruvido (Bass Cl., Elec. Guitar, Percussion) may be performed separately or together.

      Composed in honor of T.J. Anderson's 82nd birthday

      • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra and Chamber Concerto ("Singing Figures").
      • Bridge Records, Inc. 9141,
      • 2004.
      Publication Description


      • First Quartet for string quartet, Ciompi Quartet.
      • American Music for String Quartet,
      • Albany Records, Troy CD 073,
      • 1993.
      • Stephen Jaffe.
      • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra.
      • 2004.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      Commissioned by: National Symphony Orchestra Premiere: David Hardy, Cello; National Symphony Orchestra; Leonard Slatkin, conductor. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC. January 8th, 9th, 10th, 2004. Movements: I. Bold and urgently lyrical (Allegro energico) II. Clever, impish, a little “ugly” (Scherzino) III. “Mysterious flower”: poco andante; interior, inchoate (Variations) IV. Fast, pulsing Published: Presser Full Score – Study (#446-41195) Full Score – Large (#446-41195L)

      • The Rhythm Of The Running Plough, Double Sonata, and Four Songs With Ensemble, Bridge CD BCD 9047. Speculum Musicae, D’Anna Fortunato, Anton Nel, Barry Snyder, Prism Orchestra (1994).
      • The Music of Stephen Jaffe,
      • Bridge Records, Inc.,
      • 1994.
      • (Bridge 9047).
      • Stephen Jaffe.
      • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra.
      • 2000.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      Commissioned by the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. Premiere: Nicholas Kitchen, violin; Greensboro Symphony; Stuart Malina, conductor. March 11, 2000. Movements: • Allegro vivo • Passage • Variations Published: Presser #446-41195 (study score)

      • Spinoff for guitar, on Newdance: 18 Dances for Guitar Bridge 9084. David Starobin, guitar (1998) Grammy Award Nomination, 1999.
      • Bridge Records, Inc. 9084,
      • 1997.
      • Stephen Jaffe.
      • Homage to the Breath.
      • 2001.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      Instrumental and Vocal Meditations for mezzo-soprano and ten players, with a text by Thich Nhat Hanh (24′) Commissioned by: Barlow Endowment for Music Composition in honor of the 25th anniversary of the 20th Century Consort Premiere: Milagro Vargas, mezzo-soprano; 20th Century Consort; Christopher Kendall, conductor. Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC. November 10, 2001. Movements I. running pulse II. ostinato elegiaco III. homage to the breath (with mezzo-soprano)

      • Three Figures and A Ground, Patricia Spencer, flute, Linda Hall, piano.
      • The Now and Present Flute,
      • Neuma 450-88.,
      • 1994.
      • Stephen Jaffe.
      • Cíthera mea (Evocations): Spanish Music Notebook for Orchestra.
      • Fall, 2008.
      • [PDF]
      • Fort Juniper Songs for soprano, mezzo-soprano and piano, on To Sun, To Feast & To Converse Albany CD (Troy 172). Terry Rhodes, soprano, Ellen Williams, mezzo-soprano, Stephen Jaffe, piano (1995).
      • 1995.
      • Stephen Jaffe.
      • Light Dances (Chamber Concerto No. 2).
      • Merion Music, Inc. (Theodore Presser Co.),
      • 2009.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      Commissioned by Network for New Music, Philadelphia, PA and first performed on the group's concerts, April 2009.

      Commissioned by Network for New Music, Philadelphia, PA and first performed on the group's concerts, April 2009.

      • Designs and Three Figures and A Ground.
      • AUR (Arizona University Recordings) AUR CD 3123,
      • 2006.
      • (Christine Gustafson, flute, Christopher Deane, percussion and William Anderson, guitar).
      • [web]
      • Stephen Jaffe.
      • Quattro Mani: Kindred Spirits.
      • Bridge,
      • 2008.
      Publication Description

      Contains "Cut-Time Shout" for two pianos

      • Stephen Jaffe.
      • SONATA (in Four Parts) for cello and piano.
      • 144-40545 - piano score and part,
      • Merion Music, Inc. (Theodore Presser Co.),
      • Spring, 2008.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      STEPHEN JAFFE SONATA (in four parts) for cello and piano I. Fantasque (strange dialogue; not what it seems; fast zu ernst) II. Breathing, still, undulating III. Strutting (pizzicato caprice) IV. Finale(gradually assuming a running tempo) Program Note The Sonata ( in four parts) for cello and piano is, as the title indicates, a large instrumental composition in four main sections. In that it is comprised of long and short movements, its composition has something in common with my recent String Quartet No. 2 (“Aeolian and Sylvan Figures”). Both pieces feature musical material which is spread over the whole piece, and outer movements which are bigger and heavier than the lighter, inner movements. In the sonata, there is quite rich contrast: the first movement boils, almost over the top, in its white hot and contradictory exchanges between the cello and the piano (fast zu ernst means “almost too serious”—also the title of one of Schumann’s Kinderszenen). In contrast, the second movement breathes slowly; while short, this music reveals an expanded time sense. The third movement, in which the cellist plays mostly without the bow, does embody, as the title suggests, a feeling of capricious strutting. The finale is again more somber in tone, searching, if not resolution, equilibrium. The Sonata( in four parts) is dedicated to David Hardy and Lambert Orkis, who are performing it for the first time this evening with the Kennedy Center Chamber Players. The invitation to compose the work came from David Hardy, with whom I have been working closely over the past few years on the introduction of my Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, which David and the National Symphony premiered in this building in January 2004. David’s premiere recording of that work, for Bridge Records (Bridge 9255) is being released this month in tandem with the first performances of the Sonata in four parts.

      • Centering, for two violins, Linda Quan, Curtis Macomber, violins. C.R.I. 513.
      • 1983.
      • [web]
      • Impromptu for piano, on Strange Attractors: New American Music for Piano, Albany CD (Troy 231). Patricia Goodson, piano (1997).
      • 1997.
  • View All Publications
  • PhD Students

    • Jamie L. Keesecker
      • 2013-present
      • Status: PostPrelim
      • Score: New Compositions with Interactive Media. Article: “In the direction of simultaneous improvisation…” exploring the Bill Evans-Scott-LeFaro-Paul Motian trio’s rehearsals and recordings of 1963.
      • Thesis: New Compositions with Interactive Media
      • Web Page
    • Amy C Scurria
      • Status: PostPrelim
      • Pearl, an opera based on Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter as retold from the perspective of Pearl (as the grown daughter of the relationship between Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale). Libretto by Carol Gilligan and Jonathan Gilligan, Sara Jobim, conductor.
      • Thesis: Pearl: An Opera
    • Paul Leary
      • 2006 -2012
      • Status: Graduated
      • "Song of the Morrígan for Chamber Orchestra, Cries of Revelation for Chorus, Soloists and Large Instrumental Ensemble, and Fragments of a Dream for 5.1 Surround Electronics." Appointed Lecturer, Colby College. Visiting Asst. Professor, Duke University, 2013-14.
      • Thesis: "Song of the Morrígan for Chamber Orchestra, Cries of Revelation for Chorus, Soloists and Large Instrumental Ensemble, and Fragments of a Dream for 5.1 Surround Electronics."
  • Teaching

    • Music 48s
      • Vox Humana: Music and Words in Contemporary Society
    • MUSIC 399
    • MUSIC 398
    • MUSIC 397
    • MUSIC 298
    • MUSIC 297
    • MUSIC 161
    • MUSIC 151S
    • MUSIC 117S
    • MUSIC 139