Stanley M. Hoffman

Composer, conductor, arranger, vocalist, lecturer, documentary film consultant, and writer.




The son of two Jewish holocaust survivors, composer and arranger Stanley M. Hoffman’s motto is “Eyes on the stars, feet planted firmly on the ground.” Just as Stravinsky composed some 12-tone music, he does not believe that composers should limit themselves in this regard. Currently attempting his first entrepreneurial effort with a fine arts organization, Dr Hoffman’s unique musical voice can be heard in his compositions no matter which musical language he employs.

Stanley M. Hoffman was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1959. He has lived in the greater Boston area since 1977. He received degrees in Composition from Brandeis University (PhD 1993), the New England Conservatory of Music (MM 1984), and the Boston Conservatory (BM 1981).

Dr. Hoffman’s accomplishments as a composer include having his flute duet, Arirang Variations, receive a world premiere performance on a program in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 12, 2015, by bass flute players Peter Sheridan and Judy Diez d’Aux in a concert was sponsored by the Toronto-based music organization Flute Street. Peter Sheridan also commissioned Prelude and Fughetta for alto flute and organ and gave the premiere performance of this work on May 3, 2015, St. Patrick, Mentone, VIC, Australia, with the organist Christopher Trikilis. Peter Sheridan also recorded the flute duets Meditations and Memories which appears on the CD Monologues and Dialogues performed on the Australian label MOVE Records (Catalogue Number: MD 3349), and Arirang Variations which appears on the CD Continental Drift, also recorded on MOVE Records (Catalogue Number: MD 3403). The individual tracks are available on iTunes.

His compositions Crimson Sunset for organ solo, Album Leaf for harp solo, Variant on “Battle Cry of Freedom” for wind quintet, Get me a rag! Just a minute... for piano solo, and Limericks and Laughter Thereafter for clarinet solo, were chosen for performance by David Bohn, Jasmin Cowin, the West Point Woodwind Quintet, Shiauuen Ding, and Bruce Curlette, respectively, in the 2012 and 2011 call for scores known as “15-Minutes-of-Fame” by the Composer’s Voice Concert Series in New York City.

His piece Capricorn for clarinet, violin, and piano was selected to be part of the 12-movement work titled Zodiac: Across the Universe. That work received its premiere in China as part of The Zodiac Trio’s November 2013 10-concert tour.

Dr. Hoffman won a co-first place prize in the 2008–09 Longfellow Chorus International Composition Competition for his setting of the Longfellow poem Nature.

He won a third-place prize in the 2008 Choral Composition Competition sponsored by The New York Virtuoso Singers for his piece Anim Zemiros for SATB chorus.

In 2008, Dr. Hoffman received a commission from Carolina Brass for Fanfare, Tango and Fughetta on Hebrew Themes.

Grant Us Peace for SATB chorus received an “Honors” citation in 2002 in the “Waging Peace Through Singing” project sponsored by

The first song from his song cycle Selections from “The Song of Songs” for male voice and wind ensemble received a 1996 premiere performance from the Metropolitan Wind Symphony in Boston with the composer performing as the vocalist.

Dr. Hoffman received a 1995 commission from the ALEA III contemporary music ensemble in Boston for his composition Trio in One Movement for clarinet, viola, and violoncello.

His piece There Is a Name for SA chorus and amplified classical guitar or orchestra was performed before an audience of over 8000 people at the dedication ceremonies of the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston on October 22, 1995 with the guitar accompaniment.

Dr. Hoffman’s composition String Quartet (1987) was performed by the Boston Composers String Quartet at Jordan Hall in Boston on January 29, 1989. This piece was also performed by them in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York City on February 12, 1989.

He received a 1984–85 Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) Award to Student Composers for his composition Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

Senior Editor at ECS Publishing Group from 1998-2021, Dr. Hoffman was laid-off because of the economic toll caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also works as a conductor, arranger, vocalist, lecturer, documentary film consultant, and writer.

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What does music mean to you personally?

Music means a great deal to me. I have been singing since middle school, attended music schools for my bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees, and have been working in the music field professionally since 1990.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

I do not agree that music is all about fantasy. Certainly some titles are, especially pieces named Fantasy or Fantasia. Other works are attempts at literal representations of a time and place. Schoenberg’s piece A Survivor from Warsaw comes to mind. Music is by nature abstract, but composers‘ treatment of notes and rests runs the gamut from the works of Gebrauchsmusik written by Paul Hindemith to the as literal-as-possible orchestral tone poems composed by Richard Strauss.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I would work in field of space exploration. I would still like to be the first composer launched into space on a Falcoln 9 rocket. I snailmailed Elon Musk to ask him to consider it! #fact

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Yes, I am worried about the future of classical music audiences and also of the genre‘s performers. An essay or probably a book could be written about the myriad ways in which the performing arts are now damaged due to the events of recent years. Succinctly said, classical musicians must do massive multimedia and in-school presentations to engage the next generation of listeners and performers. Inspire, convinvingly lead the way, and they will come.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

The role of music in the 21st century and always is that of entertainment, whether it be sacred or secular in nature. The performing arts are now only beginning to slowly rebound after having been sidelined in an unprecedented way by the pandemic. The end result is that, moving forward, a hybrid live-and/or-streaming business model must be the norm for all performers and listeners who want to support the performing arts.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I do not think that today’s musician has to be more creative per se, but rather versatile. A classical composer today must continue to make and improve music videos, for example. Also, this discussion could generate another essay or book. There is the unparalleled creativity and fierce originality of Beethoven for which he worked feverishly in sketchbooks, and the godgiven talent of Mozart from whom perfect music flowed like water with relatively little reworking. As for the role of creativity in the musical process for me, it is of primary importance. I do not see how it can be anything else for anyone. My creative muse is fickle, playing and singing to me according to no fixed schedule; I simply listen and transcrbe what I hear. I do not know from whence my muse comes and goes, but I am always grateful for the visits.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

Emphatically yes. Simply stated, community outreach. Be in their faces with presentations that open up their young and formative minds, again in a hybrid live-and/or-streaming manner, using some up-to-date attention grabbers as part of your presentations.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

The creative process for me is different for every piece. The most common methodology is to begin with a small motivic idea and gradually expand upon it until it has organically unfurled itself. My favorite piece is the one I just completed literally yesterday, 1 June 2022: The City In the Sea - Choral Tone Poem for mixed chorus (divisi) and large orchestra (13:00), which I began to compose three decades earlier. (!!!) It took until now for me to have the life experience required to compose the introduction, bridge passages, the ending; the choruses had already existed for quite a while. My skills as a composer and orchestrator have thankfully improved over the years. That is not always the case, so that is a blessing.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Yes. Think outside of the box, in this case the box being the usual suspects for Music 101 classes such as Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Tschaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. While these are great works of art, they are overplayed, and represent only a small fraction of the music of the ages. Think and do #variety. Sigh to the vast number of lute pieces and songs by Renaissance composer John Dowland; marvel at the perfection of the Goldberg Variations by Baroque composer J.S. Bach; be wowed by the cleverness of Symphony No. 1 by Late-Romantic composer Gustav Mahler, be enthralled by the harmonies and sweep of Reflections on the Water by Impressionistic composer Claude Debussy; be terrified by the horror of Five Pieces for Orchestra by Expressionistic composer Anton Webern; be inspired by the power and originality of The Right of Spring by Neoclassical composer Igor Stravinsky; and be moved by The Soldier’s Mother’s Lullaby by lving composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. Just say no to boxes!

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Yes, other than listening to my muse, thinking about the audience is first and foremost in my mind. I do not want to inclict my music on listeners, rather I want to draw them into it. That is on me, not them.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I want to compose a second, longer song for baritone and synthesizer for baritone Andrew White; the first one of two is already up on YouTube. I also want to compose a miniature piece for cellist František Brikcius. After that, I am not sure. I am looking for opportunities to arise. In the meantime, I hope to continue orchestrating as many late Brahms piano pieces as I can manage, except those which have already been done at all well by others.