Stephen Paulus was born in Summit, NJ, on August 24, 1949. Raised in Minnesota from age two, he studied piano in his youth and later on earned a doctorate degree in composition at the University of Minnesota, where his teachers included Dominick Argento
. While a student there in 1973, Paulus, ever a supporter of the music and careers of his colleagues, co-founded the American Composers Forum, still the largest composer-advocacy organization in the U.S.
Among Paulus' first important works was his 1979 opera The Village Singer. But it was his next opera, The Postman Always Rings Twice, written on commission from the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, that was his greatest early success. After its June 1982 premiere, the work was staged at the Edinburgh Music Festival the following year, becoming the first American opera ever presented there.
1983 was also the year Paulus was named composer-in-residence with the Minnesota Orchestra
. He served in the same capacity with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
from 1988. In 1990 he was appointed concert music representative with the ASCAP Board of Directors. Paulus produced a range of compositions throughout the 1990s, and among the more successful was his opera Summer, written on commission from the Berkshire Opera Company and premiered there in 1999.
Paulus wrote his popular short choral piece The Road Home in 2002 for the Dale Warland Singers
. He followed that success with Erotic Spirits, for soprano and piano (2004), a work premiered by Deborah Voigt
and the Augusta Symphony in 2006. Among the more important recordings of Paulus' music is the 2009 BIS
CD of To Be Certain of the Dawn (2005). Later works include TimePiece, for jazz ensemble and orchestra, co-written by Paulus and his son Greg
and premiered in September 2011 by conductor Osmo Vänska
and the Minnesota Orchestra