Stephen Albert won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his symphony RiverRun, and from 1985 to 1988 served as composer-in-residence with the Seattle Symphony. He received commissions from the Chicago, National, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Seattle symphonies, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Library of Congress. Among his other awards and honors were two MacDowell Colony fellowships, a Huntington Hartford Fellowship, two Guggenheim fellowships, two Rome Prizes, and grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and the Alice M. Ditson Foundation.
Albert, whose tragic death in December of 1992 stunned the music world, was recognized in his lifetime for a body of work at once powerful, dramatic, colorful, and deeply emotive. Contemporary in sound, yet firmly rooted in traditional compositional techniques, Albert's music sought to establish links with fundamental human emotions and musical archetypes. He drew inspiration from the rich emotional palette of 19th-century music, and sought to discover, within the context of a personal 20th-century idiom, new connections with music of the past.