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Ms. Coll. 140

The Stephen "Lucky" Mosko collection : 1963-2000.

Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Merritt Room
Call No.: Ms. Coll. 140
Repository: Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Title: The Stephen "Lucky" Mosko collection,
Date(s): 1963-2000.
Quantity: 62 boxes
Abstract: Papers and audiovisual collections of composer and conductor Stephen Lee "Lucky" Mosko, including musical scores, audio and video recordings, correspondence, press and publicity materials, teaching materials, photographs and concert programs.

Processed by:

Michael C. Heller.
Finding aid encoded by: Christina Linklater, with the assistance of Irina Klyagin, Peter Laurence, Susan Pyzynski and Melanie Wisner.

Conditions Governing Use:


Biographical and Historical Note

Composer, conductor and professor Stephen "Lucky" Mosko was born in Denver, Colorado on 7 December 1947. After early training under conductor Antonia Brico, Mosko attended Yale University, where he studied music theory and composition under composer Mel Powell. After completing his bachelor's degree in 1969, Mosko began graduate study at Yale, but soon thereafter followed Powell to the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts). He received his M.F.A. from CalArts in 1972, at which time he immediately joined the CalArts Faculty, with which he remained affiliated until his death.
Mosko compositions drew from a wide variety of techniques throughout his career, including graphic notation, chance operations (including use of the Chinese I Ching), and serialism. He received two Student Composition Awards from BMI (Lovely Mansions [1971] and Night of the Long Knives [1974]), as well as commissions from the Fromm Foundation (Superluminal Connections I: The Atu of Tahuti [1985] and String Quartet [1997]), the Los Angeles Philharmonic (The Road to Tiphareth [1986]) and the Sacramento Symphony (A Garden of Time [1989]).
As a conductor, Mosko's approach was governed by an openness to many different strains of 20th Century Music. In addition to his work with the CalArts affiliated Twentieth Century Players, he served as principal conductor of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (1988-97), Contemporary Chamber Players (1995-98), and Griffin Music Ensemble (1990-92) among other ensembles. Mosko's programming tended toward eclecticism, often juxtaposing a wide variety of music within a single evening's programming. Mosko also worked occasionally in event production, including his most prominent position as music director for the Olympic Contemporary Music Festival organized with support for the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984.
Outside of his work in contemporary music, Mosko maintained a lifelong interest in Icelandic folk music, especially the vocal traditions of kvæðaskapur and rímur. He travelled to Iceland several times to study the music, beginning with a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship he received in 1974. Mosko maintained a regular correspondence with Icelandic musicologist Hreinn Steingrimmson, who published a book on the subject in 2000. Icelandic music also provided the central inspiration for two of Mosko's own compositions, titled Indigenous Music I (1980) and Indigenous Music II (1984).
In his later years, Mosko frequently collaboration with his wife Dorothy Stone, a flautist and co-founder of the group Califonia E.A.R. Unit. Aside from a brief visiting appointment at Harvard from 1990-91, Mosko remained on the faculty of CalArts until shortly before his death. Stephen Mosko died on Tuesday, December 6, 2005 of unknown causes.


Scope and Content

Materials in the collection were transferred to the Loeb Library directly by Mosko's surviving relatives in the late 2000s. The materials primarily include materials relating to Mosko's career as a composer, conductor and teacher of music. The recorded materials include much documentation of Mosko's own compositions, as well as extensive materials relating to his career as a conductor. The latter gives deep insight into the work of contemporary classical performance in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century. Programs, publicity, and correspondence with composers related to these performances are also preserved.
Correspondence files reveal much communication with well-known figures of the musical avant garde, including Morton Feldman, Milton Babbitt, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Elliott Carter and others.
Scores in the collection include extensive pre-compositional notes prepared by Mosko, often including graphs, charts, prose descriptions, and serial matrices. Such notes have been filed along with the scores and sketches in order to facilitate scholarship on Mosko's complex compositional processes.
A small number of items of a more personal nature (family photos, correspondence) have been maintained in order to give biographical background on Mosko's life as a composer. Many other materials of this nature were not selected for the collection, and were returned to the Mosko family.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Music - 20th century.
Composers - 20th century - Interviews.
Chamber music - 20th century.
Folk music - Iceland.
Mosko, Stephen L.
Feldman, Morton, 1926-1987.
Cage, John.
Carter, Elliott, 1908-2012.
Babbitt, Milton, 1916-2011.
San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
California E.A.R. Unit (Musical group)