Stephen Hartke

  • Professor of Composition
  • Chair, Department of Composition

Areas of Study


  • BA, Yale University
  • MA, University of Pennsylvania
  • PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara


Winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Stephen Hartke is widely recognized as one of the leading composers of his generation. His work has been recognized for both its singularity of voice and the inclusive breadth of its inspiration.

Born in Orange, New Jersey, in 1952, Hartke grew up in Manhattan, where he began his musical career as a professional boy chorister, performing with such organizations as the New York Pro Musica, the New York Philharmonic, the American Symphony Orchestra, and the Metropolitan Opera.

He studied at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California at Santa Barbara, then worked as advertising manager for several major music publishers. He was a Fulbright Professor at the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil before joining the University of Southern California faculty in 1987.

Hartke's piece, Meanwhile—Incidental Music to Imaginary Puppet Plays, won the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

He won the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, two Koussevitzky Music Foundation Commission Grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Charles Ives Living from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Deutsche Bank Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin.

In 2008, Hartke's opera The Greater Good received the first Charles Ives Opera Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Hartke’s output is extremely varied, including the medieval-inspired piano quartet The King of the Sun, the abstract liturgy for 10 instruments Wulfstan at the Millennium, the blues-inflected violin duo Oh Them Rats Is Mean in My Kitchen, the surreal trio The Horse with the Lavender Eye, the biblical satire Sons of Noah (for soprano, four flutes, four guitars, and four bassoons), and his recent cycle of motets for chorus, oboe and strings, Precepts.

He has composed concerti for renowned clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and violinist Michele Makarski, and his collaboration with the internationally celebrated Hilliard Ensemble has resulted in three substantial works, including his Symphony No. 3, commissioned by Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic.

Hartke’s Symphony No. 4, commissioned for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, made its world premiere in November 2014.

His acclaimed full-length opera, The Greater Good, was premiered and recorded by Glimmerglass Opera. Other major commissions have come from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Harvard Musical Association, IRIS Chamber Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Library of Congress, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Barlow Endowment, Chamber Music America, Fromm Foundation, Institute for American Music at the Eastman School of Music, Meet the Composer, National Endowment for the Arts, and Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, among others.

Most of Hartke’s music is available on commercial CDs released by Albany, Bridge, Cedille, Chandos, CRI, Delos, ECM New Series, EMI Classics, Naxos American Classics, New World Records, and Soundbrush Records.

Spring 2023

Prin Pvt Compositn: — PVST 027
Sec Pvt Composition: — PVST 077
Composition II — COMP 202
Composition Seminar II — COMP 252
Composition Class IV — COMP 302
Survey of Compositional Forms and Structures — COMP 332

Fall 2023

Prin Pvt Compositn: — PVST 027
Sec Pvt Composition: — PVST 077
Composition for Non-Majors — COMP 101
Composition I — COMP 201
Instrumentation — COMP 211
Composition III — COMP 301
Orchestration — COMP 311
Counterpoint II — COMP 421