Violinist, educator, administrator, Dean Emeritus and alumnus of The Juilliard School, Stephen H. Clapp, died peacefully on the morning of Sunday, January 26, at his home in Cos Cob, CT, after a lengthy illness. He was 74 years old. Stephen Clapp was Associate Dean (Jan 1991-Jun 1994) and then Dean of The Juilliard School (July 1, 1994 to June 30, 2007), before returning to what he truly loved – a busy schedule of teaching and coaching chamber music as a faculty member in the College and Pre-College divisions at Juilliard while holding the title of Dean Emeritus. A member of the violin and chamber music faculty at Juilliard since 1987 (and Pre-College since 1962), Dean Clapp was working with students in his studio at Juilliard even during the week before he died.
In his long affiliation as student, faculty member and dean at Juilliard, there were few people who knew The Juilliard School or its students as thoroughly as Stephen Clapp. At various times as an administrator he supervised orchestral and chamber music performances, and held policy and curriculum related posts touching admissions, financial aid, doctoral governance, scholastic standing, and faculty and administrative councils. His teaching and mentorship of students never stopped. In appointing him Dean of Juilliard in 1994, Juilliard President Joseph W. Polisi commented on the ‘privilege’ of having such a capable, talented, and Juilliard-knowledgeable administrator within its ranks saying, “Steve Clapp possesses not only a keen understanding of the academic and administrative workings of Juilliard, but also as a teacher and performer, he possesses a profound and personal understanding of what it means to be a young performing artist pursuing an education and career at The Juilliard School.” In 2007, President Polisi awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Musical Arts at the school’s 102nd commencement.
President Polisi notified the Juilliard community of students, faculty, and staff of the passing of this ‘essential member of the Juilliard community’ on Tuesday morning by saying, “He was a great friend to so many of us and his loss is felt deeply throughout our community of students, faculty, staff, and generations of alumni. Steve was a person of exceptional artistry, impeccable character, and deep sensitivity; he was admired by us all as an artist and as a human being. His work as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player represented the highest standards of the institution. We will miss his engaging smile and caring personality.”
Stephen Clapp was born November 27, 1939,in Tallman, NY to Robert and Dorothea Clapp. He was raised in New Jersey where he first studied piano before taking up the violin. He attended Oberlin Conservatory studying with Andor Toth, and the Mozarteum Akademie in Salzburg, Austria, before entering Juilliard as a student of legendary pedagogues Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay. He earned his Master of Science degree in Music from Juilliard in 1965, and that same year won the very first Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award as a member of the Beaux Arts String Quartet. He also was a member of the Blair Quartet and later, a founding member of the Oberlin Trio with whom he recorded and toured internationally. He was Professor of violin at Oberlin College-Conservatory and chair of its string department when asked to return to Juilliard as a full time faculty member in 1987.
A regular performer and faculty member at the Aspen Music Festival for many seasons, Stephen Clapp also was Concertmaster of the Aspen Festival Chamber Symphony and the Nashville and Austin symphonies. He has performed in collaboration with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, Brooks Smith, and the late Jacqueline DuPré, among others. Dean Clapp has given master classes, adjudicated countless competitions, and appeared in recitals and concerto performances in the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe. He also has taught at Peabody College in Nashville, the University of Texas at Austin.
Active in his Cos Cob, Connecticut community and church, he was dedicated to Christian lay ministry at Christ Church, Greenwich, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Stamford, and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Stephen Clapp was honored in 2005 by the Greenwich (CT) Symphony Orchestra at their annual benefit soiree, which fittingly, raised funds for its young people’s concert series. He is survived by his wife, Linda, daughter Amy Clapp Dye (Martin Dye), sons Peter and Andrew, and grandchildren Kellan and Josephine Clapp.
A funeral service of Holy Communion will be held Saturday, February 1 at 2 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, 628 Main St, Stamford, CT 06901. For directions and parking see stjohns-stamford.org . In lieu of flowers and in celebration of Stephen Clapp's lifelong artistry and devotion to his students, his family requests support for the Stephen Clapp Memorial Violin Scholarship. Contributions should be made payable to The Juilliard School and sent to 60 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023, or call (212) 799-5000 x692, or visit Juilliard.edu/giving .