NATHANIEL STOOKEY was born and raised in San Francisco, where he studied violin and composition. Nathaniel was a violinist and violist with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 1986 through 1988. At 17, he was invited to write a chamber work for the San Francisco Symphony’s New and Unusual Music Series, the youngest composer ever to be so honored. Since then, he has worked with a remarkable range of artists all over the world. In 2000, having returned to the United States, Stookey received a three-year New Residencies award from Meet The Composer to serve as composer-in-residence with the North Carolina Symphony.
In 2006, the San Francisco Symphony premiered the new commissioned work, The Composer Is Dead, with libretto by Lemony Snicket, which was immediately taken up by the Toronto Symphony’s New Creations Festival and has since been programmed by orchestras across North America including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Dallas Symphony. “I hope I’m not giving too much away by saying that The Composer Is Dead ends with a funeral march," said Nathaniel Stookey. “The march is made up of music about death by some of the world's greatest composers, a solid majority of whom are, alas, no longer with us. Classical composers have always had a preoccupation with death, partly because we are human, like you, partly because we grapple with the mysteries of the universe, partly because death sells records and always has, even before there were records. Most of the great classical composers wrote at least one piece about death. Many wrote several. The funeral march that ends The Composer Is Dead includes brief quotations from some of these works, which happen to represent some of the most extraordinary music of all time. (All the rest of the music in the piece is mine and will also be by a dead composer someday, which is very sad if you stop to think about it.)" The Composer Is Dead will be released by HarperCollins in November 2008 in a recording featuring Lemony Snicket and the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Edwin Outwater.