Composer and conductor David Stock, born in Pittsburgh June 3, 1939, was known for his stylistically modern yet accessible music. He died on November 2nd, 2015. His large catalog of compositions includes six symphonies, ten string quartets, a dozen concerti for mixed instruments, and numerous pieces for voice and chamber orchestra. He also produced a variety of works for theater, film, and television. Stock’s reputation as a composer and conductor earned him many awards, commissions, and guest appearances at prestigious institutions around the world.
“David Stock poured his heart into music and used it to build community,” said Milken Archive of Jewish Music founder Lowell Milken. “Although he traveled the world, he always remained part of his hometown’s musical life. He will be missed."
He earned his B.F.A. and M.F.A from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (later Carnegie Mellon University), where he studied trumpet and composition with Nikolai Lopatnikoff and Alexei Haieff. He earned a second master’s degree studying with Arthur Berger at Brandeis University and matriculated at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris and the Berkshire Music Center.
Stock was committed to the artistic growth of Pittsburgh. He was Professor Emeritus at Duquesne University, where he conducted the Duquesne Contemporary Ensemble. He also taught on the faculties of the Cleveland Institute of Music, the New England Conservatory, Antioch College, and the University of Pittsburgh. He was conductor laureate of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, which he helped found in 1976, and composer in residence at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Symphony. In 1992, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust honored Stock with its Creative Achievement Award for “outstanding established artist.”
Dedicated to promoting the music of contemporary American composers and cultivating new audiences for modern concert music, Stock was chairman of the Pittsburgh Alliance of Composers, directed the WQED-FM New Music Project, hosted its weekly radio series “Da Capo,” and served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Stock’s music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe, as well as in Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, China, Uzbekistan, and Korea. Among his most important compositions are Kickoff (1990), which was premiered by the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur during its 150th anniversary season, and his Violin Concerto (1995), which received its premiere as part of the Pittsburgh Symphony’s 100th anniversary celebration. Other significant works include Inner Space (1973) and A Joyful Noise (1983) for symphony orchestra; American Accents (1983) and Available Light (1995) for chamber orchestra; and Dreamwinds (1975), Keep the Change (1981), Parallel Worlds (1984), and Sulla spiaggia (1985) for mixed chamber ensemble. He has also composed music for youth orchestras, including Zohar (1978), which draws from Jewish mysticism, and Triflumena (1978).
During the 1980s and 90s, Stock began writing more work with explicitly
Jewish content. The Milken Archive/Naxos release David Stock
(2006) includes A Little Miracle (1997), a dramatic cantata
for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra on Holocaust themes; Yizkor
(1999), a single-movement orchestral reflection on the Jewish memorial
service; and Tekiah (1987), a three-movement work for trumpet
and chamber orchestra that refers to the blowing of the shofar on Rosh
Hashana and Yom Kippur. Stock also received commissions from Music of
Remembrance, where he served on the advisory board, for A Vanished World
(2000), named after the Roman Vishniac book and conceived as an aural
representation of pre-war Eastern European Jewry; and for Mayn Shvester
Khaye (2008), his arrangement of a song by Israeli singer Chava Alberstein.
Other works of Jewish character include his Third Symphony, Tikkun
Olam (1999), commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project;
his Cello Concerto (2001), of which the last movement is
styled on cantorial melodies; and his Sixth Symphony (2013/2014),
which incorporates several songs from the Jewish liturgy, including “Sh’ma
See my interview with Gerard Schwarz
He recorded on CRI, Innova, Northeastern, MMC, Ocean, and Ambassador, among others. Notable recordings with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble include David Stock: Chamber Works (originally released in 1984 on CRI), which features two jazz-oriented compositions, Triple Play and Scat, as well as The Philosopher’s Stone; and Taking Stock (1994, Northeastern), which presents the multi-movement works The Particle Zoo and Tekiah. His television credits include the theme music for the PBS series Kennedy Center Tonight.
Reviews of Stock’s work often pinpointed his unabashed 20th-century musical approach that prized expression above all else and avoided some of the trappings of much contemporary music. In a 2010 review of the premiere performance of Stock’s Blast!, Seattle Times critic Bernard Jacobson noted that Stock “commands a style where apparent simplicity coexists with a high degree of technical sophistication,” while a 2006 review of the Milken Archive/Naxos CD David Stock for the American Record Guide wrote that “Stock has the clarity (but not the austerity) of a latter day minimalist.” Scott Winship of the website New Music Box described a performance of Available Light as “an almost schizophrenic journey through Stravinsky-esque rhythms and orchestrations . . . with sudden shifts to Bernstein harmonizations and restless perpetual motion reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoons.” Another writer called Stock’s Violin Concerto “one of American music’s best kept secrets.”
Stock received a Guggenheim Fellowship, several fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and grants and commissions from the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust, the Paderewski Fund for Composers, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, Boston Musica Viva, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Richard Stoltzman, Duquesne University, and the Erie Philharmonic, among others.
His international guest conducting appearances included Australia’s
Seymour Group, Poland’s Capella Cracoviensis and Silesian Philharmonic,
Mexico’s Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva, and China’s Eclipse.
In the U.S., he appeared with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Baltimore Symphony,
Seattle Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Syracuse
Society for New Music, Minnesota Composers Forum, American Dance Festival,
Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, New England Conservatory Contemporary Ensemble,
Chautauqua Symphony, American Wind Symphony, and the Cleveland Chamber
-- Biography from his official website
Schenkerian analysis is a method of analyzing tonal music, based on the theories of Heinrich Schenker (1868–1935). The goal is to demonstrate the organic coherence of the work by showing how it relates to an abstract deep structure, the Ursatz. This primal structure is roughly the same for any tonal work, but a Schenkerian analysis shows how, in an individual case, that structure develops into a unique work at the "foreground", the level of the score itself. A key theoretical concept is that of "tonal space". The intervals between the notes of the tonic triad in the background form a tonal space that is filled with passing and neighbor notes, producing new triads and new tonal spaces, open for further elaborations until the surface of the work (the score) is reached.
The analysis uses a specialized symbolic form of musical notation. Although Schenker himself usually presents his analyses in the generative direction, starting from the fundamental structure (Ursatz) to reach the score and showing how the work is somehow generated from the Ursatz, the practice of Schenkerian analysis more often is reductive, starting from the score and showing how it can be reduced to its fundamental structure. The graph of the Ursatz is arrhythmic, as is a strict-counterpoint cantus firmus exercise. Even at intermediate levels of the reduction, rhythmic signs (open and closed noteheads, beams and flags) show not rhythm but the hierarchical relationships between the pitch-events.Schenkerian analysis is an abstract, complex and difficult method, not always clearly expressed by Schenker himself, nor always clearly understood. It mainly aims at showing the internal coherence of the work, a coherence that ultimately resides in its being tonal. In some respects, a Schenkerian analysis can reflect the perceptions and intuitions of the analyst.
Because the first principle of the elaboration is the filling in
of the tonal space by passing notes, an essential goal of the analysis
is to show linear connections between notes which, filling a single
triad at a given level, remain closely related to each other but which,
at subsequent levels, may become separated by many measures or many
pages as new triads are embedded in the first one. The analyst is expected
to develop a "distance hearing" (Fernhören), a "structural
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on June 18, 1988. Portions were broadcast on WNIB twice the following year, and again in 1994 and 1999. This transcription was made in 2019, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.