STEVEN LEDBETTER is a scholar, writer, lecturer, and conductor who served as Musicologist and Program Annotator for the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1998. During this time he wrote roughly 250-300 published pages per year of program note material for the concerts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, and Tanglewood Festival Chorus, as well as the week-long Festival of Contemporary Music each summer at Tanglewood. In addition to writing for many orchestras, chamber ensembles, and other musical institutions throughout the United States, he has written the booklet notes for nearly 300 recordings. As a scholar, his research specialties include the 16th‑century Italian madrigalist Luca Marenzio, music of the turn-of-the-century New England romantic composers (particularly George W. Chadwick), and musical theater (particularly Gilbert and Sullivan and American operetta traditions from Victor Herbert on).
After earning the B.A. in music from Pomona College and the Ph.D. in musicology at New York University, he served on the faculties of NYU and Dartmouth before joining the Boston Symphony, and has taught at Harvard and the Institute for Studies in American Music at Brooklyn College. He has conducted choral ensembles of all sizes and orchestras at Pomona College, Dartmouth College, and Providence College.
The secular works of Luca Marenzio (1553-1599) and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury (both from Broude Brothers Limited). He has produced recordings of chamber music by Boston composers for Northeastern Records, including the complete string quartets of Chadwick and works by John K. Paine, Arthur Foote, and Amy Beach. In 1988 he edited Sennets & Tuckets, a book of essays about Leonard Bernstein, for Bernstein’s 70th birthday celebration at Tanglewood. For the New Grove Dictionary of Opera, he was the area editor for pre-1918 American opera and contributed to the New Grove Dictionary of American Music and both the 1980 and 2000 editions of the full New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. In 1991 his BSO program notes received an ASCAP/Deems Taylor award, which is given for “Distinguished print and media coverage of music.”
After nineteen years on the staff of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he created his own service, Steven Ledbetter Program Notes, in 1998, and now writes notes for orchestras, chamber music ensembles, new-music groups, opera companies, and other ensembles all over the United States and for concert venues like Carnegie Hall. He is in demand as a lecturer on all periods of classical music and the musical theater for many organizations, both in the Boston area and farther afield.