Stuart Saunders Smith

Stuart Saunders Smith

Stuart Saunders Smith (b. Portland, Maine, United States, March 16, 1948) is a notable and widely performed American composer, percussionist, and poet. He was born in Portland, Maine and grew up in Portland and central Maine, to a family that had originally come from central Maine.

He studied with Edward Diemente at the Hartt School of Music. In 1977, he received a DMA in composition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where his instructors included Edward Miller, Salvatore Martirano, Herbert Brün, and Ben Johnston. He teaches at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, [] and has also taught at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. He served as executive editor of the Percussive Arts Research Edition from 1982 to 1984.

His wife is the percussionist and music publisher Sylvia Smith, who has performed many of his works. They live together in Baltimore, Maryland. His works are published by Smith Publications.

Smith describes himself as "a confessional composer who focuses on revealing in his music the most personal aspects of his life, in the belief that the revelations of the particular speak to the universal." His music is usually chromatic, atonal, and rhythmically complex, with his pitch material selected in an intuitive manner rather than via the twelve-tone technique. Many of his works are theatrical, asking the performers to speak, sing, act, and perform pantomime in addition to playing their instruments. His works often feature improvisation. Approximately half of his more than 130 works involve percussion, and his works are particularly popular among percussionists. He has a preference for found sounds, and often utilizes household objects (such as plates, bowls, and tin cans) and objects found in nature (such as dried leaves, logs, and pod rattles) as sound sources. Many of his works are inspired by the environment and history of Maine, including "...And Points North" (1990), which is about the Passamaquoddy nation of eastern Maine.

Recordings of Smith's music have been released on the 11 West, Capstone, Centaur, Opus One, O.O. Discs, Cadenza, BVHaast, and GAC Sweden labels. He has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council.

His 60th birthday was celebrated with concerts on March 7 and September 22, 2008, at the University of Akron.

Notable compositions


*Poems I, II, II for five brake drums and narrator
*One for Syl for solo vibraphone


*One for Two for alto saxophone and organ
*A Gift for Bessie for violin, piano, bassoon, and percussion


*Here and There for shortwave radio, piano interior (percussion) and any melody instrument or voice
*Legacy Variations No. 1 for any three sustaining melody instruments
*Legacy Variations No. 99 for any three sustaining melody instruments
*Three for Two for violin and viola
*Two for Four for percussion quartet (orchestra bells, vibraphone, cymbal, large and medium gong, xylophone, marimba, timpani, temple blocks, and various small percussion instruments


*Two Makes Three for organ and two percussion


*Faces for oboe and clarinet
*Gifts for keyboard and any two melody instruments
*Links for solo vibraphone


*Links no. 2 for solo vibraphone
*Links no. 3 for solo vibraphone


*Return and Recall / Initiatives and Reactions: Studies in the Concept of Group Composition performance systems for actors, dancers, musicians, mimes, etc.


*Pinetop for solo piano


*Flight for flute and piano


*Blue for trumpet, drum set and double bass


*Notebook for any instruments in any combination
*Notebook, Part II for one or two pianos (may be played with *Notebook)


*Songs I-IX for percussionist-actor (small percussion instruments and various household items from kitchen)


*Tunnels a solo music-text-theater composition for keyboard, string, or multiple percussion
*Links No. 4 (Monk) for solo vibraphone


*Blue Too for solo drum set


*Aussie Blue for solo piano
*In Bingham for solo speaker/narrator


*Links No. 5 (Sitting on the Edge of Nothing) for solo vibraphone with offstage orchestra bells and chimes


*The Noble Snare for solo snare drum


*Coming and Going for any three musicians performing shortwave radio and instruments
*Links No. 6 (Song Interiors) for vibraphone and piano
*Links No. 7 (New England Night Weave) for solo vibraphone


*...And Points North a music-theater work for solo percussionist/narrator (wood block, small Peking opera gong, Tibetan cymbal, glass wind chimes, owl hooter, hawk screamer, pod rattles, Audubon bird call, "found" instruments from the city and the woods)
*Transitions and Leaps for two or more performers performing any sounds/actions


*"as if time would heal by its passing for solo marimba
*Family Portraits: Sylvia (wife) for solo piano
*Family Portraits: Ivy (grandmother) for solo piano
*Family Portraits: Earle (father) for solo piano
*Hawk for solo oboe
*In Common for flute and vibraphone
*Links No. 8 (Confessions-Witness to 48 Things) for vibraphone with flute
*Nightshade for violin or medium voice and two percussionists, each playing orchestra bells (glockenspiel), tam-tam or gong, two cymbals, two triangles


*Good Night for solo marimba
*From one to another for amplified forest and musicians
*Links No. 9 (Mosque) for solo vibraphone
*Meetings for flute, vibraphone and piano


*Each Moment and Ending for keyboard percussion quintet
*Part for flute, piano, and cello
*Thaw for solo orchestra bells (glockenspiel)
*Links No. 10 (Who Are We? Where Are We?) for solo vibraphone


*Family Portraits: Brenda (first cousin) for solo marimba
*Links No. 11 (Regions I-XXI) for three vibraphones
*WInd in the Channel for solo tenor recorder


*Family Portraits: Delbert (great-grandfather) for trumpet, flute, and five percussion (tom-toms and triangles)
*Strays for xylophone and tenor recorder or flute


*Family Portraits: Cubba (grandfather) for trumpet, flute, and five percussion (tom-toms and triangles)
*Family Portraits: Mom and Dad Together for solo double bass
*Polka in Treblinka for percussion trio (bass drum, xylophone, snare drum and high hat)
*Said, Nearly for solo cello


*Family Portrait: Self (in 14 stations) for solo piano
*The Night is Never Long for piccolo and xylophone


*Closing for solo guitar
*Fences in Three Tragedies for solo piano
*When Music is Missing, Music Sings for two percussionists playing five "found" instruments each


*All That is Left orchestra bell (glockenspiel) duet
*And Sometimes the Ears for solo tenor steel drum
*Even Song for solo orchestra bells (glockenspiel)
*Leaving for solo marimba
*Many Women for xylophone/narrator
*Went Forth for xylophone/narrator


*Books of Flutes for solo flute
*Bones for percussion, piano, and 3 or 4 melody instruments
*Endless for two flutes and two vibraphones
*Sitting in the Crowd for xylophone/narrator
*The Geography of Streams for percussion trio (xylophone solo with two sets of orchestra bells, two bass drums, claves, and woodblocks)
*Thinking About Anne Sexton duo for vibraphone and speaking voice


*And Cold for xylophone/narrator
*Breath for mezzo-soprano and orchestra bells (glockenspiel)
*Family Portraits: Ligeia (daughter) for soprano voice and piano
*Light Dew for solo double bass
*Madness for xylophone/narrator
*Minor for solo violin
*Pond for xylophone/narrator
*Sometime Then for xylophone/narrator


*Asleep in Thorns for guitar and flute
*Brush for solo drum set
*Dad's Time Had Come for solo xylophone
*Dead Reckoning for tenor recorder trio
*Further Than Now for clarinet and piano
*Mingus for xylophone/narrator
*Things That Grow Smaller for flute, clarinet, bassoon, piano, and percussion
*Two Lights for solo drum set


*Family Portraits: Embden Pond for solo alto flute with two vibraphones
*Still Slowly for xylophone and piano
*Willow for solo cello
*Wounded an antiphonal composition for 3 or 4 xylophones


*Hearts for solo violin
*Ground for solo orchestra bells (glockenspiel)
*Plenty thirty-four movements for solo vibraphone


*Clay Singing for solo percussion with spoken text
*Family Portraits: Erika (daughter) for vibraphone and violin
*In Hours Like THese for soprano voice and orchestra bells (glockenspiel)
*A River, Rose for violin and vibraphone
*When The Body Betrays for tenor voice and double seconds steel drums
*Winter Taps vibraphone duet with spoken text
*Women in Meeting flute duet


*The Authors for solo marimba with spoken text
*Bethany for low voice and piano
*Big Falls, Little Falls for percussion quartet
*Castine for marimba with offstage voice
*Lace orchestra bell (glockenspiel) duet with voice
*Magdalene for soprano saxophone and two percussion
*Over for solo orchestra bells (glockenspiel)
*Rose for flute with spoken text and movement
*Still...Alive for voice and guitar
*A Vietnam Memorial opera for speaking voice and vibraphone


*Among Us for solo piano
*Beats for baritone voice and piano
*Light for two voices
*Light in Each One for solo alto flute
*The Lines of Ageing for solo vibraphone
*The Narrow Path trio for two vibraphones and orchestra bells (glockenspiel)
*Past for solo tenor voice
*Quilt for vibraphone and marimba
*Seven Seasons for contralto voice and vibraphone
*Angels for percussion trio, three triangles each
*(as the days get shorter) for solo bass clarinet


*Mornings duo for vibraphone and three cymbals


*Smith, Stuart Saunders. "Twentieth Century Scores". Prentice-Hall.
*Smith, Stuart Saunders, and Thomas DeLio (1989). "Words and Spaces: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Musical Experiments in Language and Sonic Environments". University Press of America. ISBN 0819174254. ISBN 9780819174253.


*Welsh, John P. (1995). " [ The Music of Stuart Saunders Smith] ". Contributions to the Study of Music and Dance, 0193-9041; no. 38. Westport, Connecticut, United States: Greenwood Press. ISBN 031329805X.

External links

* [ Stuart Saunders Smith page]
* [ Stuart Saunders Smith page]
* [ Faculty page from UMBC site]
* [ List of works] from Smith Publications site


* [ "Breath" (2001)]

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