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October 2014
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Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)


Fans are mourning the loss of American composer Stephen Paulus who died on Sunday at the age of 65. Paulus wrote works for many American artists and ensembles, including Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Singers were particularly drawn to his treatment of the human voice, which prompted commissions from Deborah Voigt, Samuel Ramey, Thomas Hampson, Elizabeth Futral, and conductor Dale Warland. Vocal ensembles ranging from Chanticleer to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to King’s College Choir in Cambridge have recorded his choral works.

Stephen Paulus was born in Summit, New Jersey in 1949 and earned a PhD from the University of Minnesota. Even as a graduate student, he was becoming a driving force in the advancement of contemporary music, co-founding the American Composers Forum with fellow composer Libby Larsen.

The Minnesota Composers' Forum, now the American Composers' Forum, 1977 (left to right) Randall Davidson, Monte Mason, Stephen Paulus, and Libby Larsen

Staff photo: Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composers Forum, 1977 (left to right); Randall Davidson, Stephen Paulus, Monte Mason, and Libby Larsen

John Nuechterlein, now President and CEO of the Forum, said on Monday, “Stephen’s music touched the lives of many, but we also honor the enormous contributions he made in time and talent on behalf of fellow composers.  He gave generously, and there are hundreds of composers who are grateful for all he did to support them and nurture their careers.  The very existence of the Forum is testament to the vision that he and Libby Larsen shared many years ago.”

Stephen Paulus suffered from a stroke in July of 2013 and had been staying in an assisted living facility. He died of complications from the stroke. He is survived by his wife Patty, their two adult sons, and his mother. A funeral is planned for Saturday, November 8 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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