Stephen Danker

(1944– )

Stephen Dankner, a prolific composer whose works have been described as melodic and tonal with rich textures and chromatic harmony, spent many years working as a teacher while living in New Orleans. He was born on November 5, 1944, in Brooklyn, New York. He completed his schooling in New York City by earning his B.A. from New York University, an M.A. from Queens College, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The Juilliard School. In 1985, he began a long association with the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) a preprofessional arts conservatory at the high school level. There he taught music and computer literacy, as well as serving as pianist for ballet classes. Dankner served as chair of the Music Department (1990–-2001) and retired from NOCCA in May 2005. He was appointed composer in residence with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (2004–2007), serving also as audience liaison and outreach coordinator.

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Dankner and his wife, Laura, left New Orleans and relocated to Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he continues to compose and is also the music columnist of The Advocate, a weekly newspaper in North Adams, Massachusetts, serving Berkshire County in western Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont.

Dankner has composed extensively for orchestra, chamber ensembles, soloists, and computer-controlled synthesizers. Among the many orchestras, ensembles, and institutions that have commissioned, performed, or recorded his works are the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans; the National Symphony of Washington, D.C.; the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado; the Albany Symphony Orchestra of New York; the Cypress String Quartet of San Francisco, California; the Audubon Quartet; the Hawthorne Duo; and the Loyola University Piano Trio of New Orleans. His music has been recorded on the Albany and Centaur labels.

In 1990, the Audubon Institute commissioned Dankner to compose a state-of-the-art computer-controlled electronic music installation for the New Orleans Aquarium of the Americas, where it remains a permanent exhibit.

Dankner was twice the recipient of a Louisiana Arts Fellowship in music composition (1983 and 1998) and has received three State of Louisiana Division of the Arts Mini-Grants (1998–2003).

  • His compositions include the following:
  • “Hurricane for Large Orchestra” (1995)
  • “Fanfare for String Orchestra” (1996)
  • “Symphony No. 3 (Song of Solomon)” (1999)


Cite This Entry

Chicago Manual of Style

Litwin, Sharon. "Stephen Danker." In KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published October 3, 2012.

MLA Style

Litwin, Sharon. "Stephen Danker." KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 3 Oct 2012. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.

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