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Eric Stokes   

1930 - 1999



Eric Stokes (born, Haddon Heights, N.J. July 14,1930).

Formal studies: Lawrence College (B. Mus. 1952); New England Conservatory (M. Mus. 1956): University of Minnesota (PhD. 1963).
Principal studies with: Evelyn White, Frederick Happich, James Ming, Carl McKinley, Paul Fetler, Dominick Argento.

Professor of music, University of Minnesota (1961-88). There he founded the University's Electronic Music program (1970) and the new music ensemble program including the performance group "The First Minnesota Moving & Storage Warehouse Band" (1971). In the sixties in collaboration with Thomas Nee, he initiated & directed the HERE CONCERTS, a new music series.

Stokes' early compositions (1955-62) are tonal & lyrical; among them SMOKE & STEEL (Sandburg) shows the interest in American subjects that became a vital aspect of his work. From 1963 Stokes' style has expanded to include collage, theater & mixed media elements reflecting the influence of Ives in its use of stylistic juxtapositions, of Brant in its use of spatial deployment of forces and of American folksong, hymns & jazz. His first opera, HORSPFAL (produced by the Minnesota Opera Co. in 1969), concerns the misadventures of the American Indian since the coming of the Europeans. It is a spatial work combining film and collage procedures with the instrumental & vocal forces. This unique compositional design is directed in some episodes by as many as four conductors assisting the principal conductor.

THE CONTINENTAL HARP & BAND REPORT (1974-75), commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra and recorded by the Louisville Orchestra (First Edition Records LS 760) is a miscellany of 9 widely contrasting pieces scored for wind symphony with percussion, keyboard and harp.

More recently Stokes has included "found sounds" in some of his compositions such as ROCK & ROLL, THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT, HARBOR DAWN & PROEM (Crane), BRIDGING WEST, "SPRING" SONG, and ICE PALACE.

Among the more than 80 works by Eric Stokes are those commissioned by the New Hampshire Music Festival (1962 & 1972); Minnesota Opera (1969 & 1976); St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (1972, 1973 and 1992); St. Olaf College (1975); Minneapolis Pops Orchestra (1977 & 1986); Cabrillo Music Festival (1979); London Sinfonietta (1981); San Francisco Symphony (1982); Electric Phoenix (1984); Zeitgeist (1985 & 1992); Meet the Composer (1985 & 1991); Vale of Glamorgan Festival, Wales (1988); Barlow Endowment with the American Composers Orchestra (1990); Sylmar (1990); Chamber Music America (1992); Cincinnati Symphony (1994); Lontano (1995).

Stokes' music is performed widely in the U.S. and abroad including recent presentations by the Atlanta Symphony; B.B.C. Symphony; W.D.R. Orchestra, Koln; Los Angeles Philharmonic; Cincinnati Symphony; Zeitgeist, Chestnut Brass Company, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Relache; St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; The Tulsa Philharmonic; Minnesota Orchestra; Minneapolis Chamber Symphony; Anchorage Symphony; Flute Force; American Composers Orchestra; Vale of Glamorgan Festival (1981; 1988; 1995); New Hampshire Music Festival and the Jubal Trio.

Stokes' recent opera, APOLLONIA'S CIRCUS, premiered in May, 1994 David Zinman, conducting the University of Minnesota Opera, gained notice as "a major new opera."

The music of Eric Stokes is recorded on the Louisville; CRI; Albany and Innova labels and published by Horspfal Music, 1611 West 32nd St. Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55408.



  • THE CONTINENTAL HARP & BAND REPORT, Louisville Orchestra, Dennis Davies, conducting: First Edition Records LS 760
  • ON THE BADLANDS-PARABLES, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Dennis Davies, conducting - CRI 415
  • ELDEY ISLAND, Cynthia Stokes, flute (picc) with tape -CRI 415
  • ELDEY ISLAND, Carol Wincenc, flute (picc) with tape Advance FGR 285
  • TINTINNABULARY, (Phonic Paradigm IV), Jay Johnson & Eric Stokes, percussion - New Music Minnesota (CRI).
  • TAG, Richard Dirlam, saxophone with tape New Music Minnesota (CRI)
  • SONG CIRCLE, The Jubal Trio, Christine Schadeberg, sop., Sue Ann Kahn, flute, Susan Jolles, harp - (CRI - CD 738)
  • BRAZEN CARTOGRAPHIES, The Chestnut Brass Company (Albany Records - CD Troy 233)

Further Information

  • Eric Stokes' website.
  • Bibliography
    • E. Ruth Anderson: Contemporary American Composers (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1976, 2/1982).
    • ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, 4th ed. (New York. R. R. Bowker Co., 1980).
    • David Ewen: American Composers: A Biographical Dictionary (N. Y. Putnam, 1982).
    • Who's Who in American Music: Classical (Bowker, N. Y. 1983)
    • Neil Butterworth: A Dictionary of American Composers, (Garland Publications, New York, 1984)
    • New Grove Dictionary of American Music; H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie, Eds. (Macmillan Press, Ltd. N. Y., London, 1986).
    • The New Grove Dictionary of Opera; Stanley Sadie, Ed. (Macmillan Press Ltd. N. Y., London, 1992).
    • Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 8th ed., Nicolas Slonimsky, Ed. (G. Schirmer Inc. 1992)
    • International Who's Who in Music and Musicians Directory, 9th ed.; Adrian Gaster, Ed. (Cambridge, England).
    • Who's Who in the Midwest, 19th ed. (Marquis Who's Who, Chicago, 1984).
    • Men of Achievement, 11th ed. (International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England, 1984).
    • Ann McCutchan, The Muse That Sings: Composers speak about the creative process: (Amadeus Press, Portland, OR. 1998)
    • Eric Stokes talking with Vincent Plush (1982) in Oral History Project, American Music Series, Vivian Perliss, Director, School of Music, Yale University
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