Peter Pindar Stearns (1931–2016) — Chorale-Variations on an Original Theme (1977) for organ
American composer Peter Pindar Stearns (1931–2016) was born in New York City of musician parents. His father, Theodore Stearns, was a composer and opera conductor, well-known in the last decades of the 19th century. His mother, Marguerite Lamar Stearns, was a lyric soprano of note. Peter Pindar Stearns grew up in Los Angeles (where his father had been appointed the music faculty of UCLA in 1932) and began formal study of music theory and composition privately with Leonard Stein at age 18. Returning to New York, he enrolled at the Mannes School of Music where he studied composition with Bohuslav Martinů, theory with Felix Salzer, and organ with Julia Fox. After graduation from Mannes, Stearns returned to Los Angeles to work in the film industry and to study with Miklós Rózsa. In 1957, he was appointed to the faculty of Mannes where he remained until his retirement 32 years later. He also taught briefly at Yale University. During his years at Mannes, Stearns developed the composition curriculum and served for 15 years as head of the composition department. As a composer, Stearns’s output numbers more than 300 works, including seven symphonies, six string quartets, numerous other orchestral and chamber works, and an enormous number of organ and chamber pieces. In his later decades, he composed primarily organ and choral music. Stearns also worked at various times over the years as an organist, choral director, editor (including eight years as director of publications for Coburn Press), and organ builder (for Charles B. Fisk and Robert Noehren).