Baylor alum Steven Stucky’s latest composition, performed this month by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, marks what would have been the 100th birthday of another notable Texan, President Lyndon B. Johnson, but it’s gaining recognition outside of the state’s boundaries because of its focus.
The oratorio, “August 4, 1964,” focuses on a single day in LBJ’s presidency — a pivotal date that soon led to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. Its relevance — an unpopular war based on faulty evidence led by a president from Texas — is clear, and part of what has drawn national attention to the work. But the parallel is not the entire focus of the piece, and the impending war was not the only thing on LBJ’s mind that day. (For more details, read this New York Times article on Stucky’s work.)
This isn’t the first time Stucky has earned such recognition; he recieved the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2005 for his “Second Concerto for Orchestra”, the first time a Baylor alum had ever earned a Pulitzer. In 2007, he was named a distinguished alumnus of Baylor. While this piece is playing in Dallas, he is a professor at Cornell University and has worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for more than 15 years.
Sic ’em, Steven Stucky!