Dr. Steve Larson, professor of music at the University of Oregon, lost his battle with brain cancer on June 7, 2011. He was surrounded by family and friends at his home and supported via thoughts and messages by the greater community of friends, current and former students, and colleagues. A memorial fund for music theory has been established in his name. A memorial plaque and planetree maple was planted in 2011 on the west lawn near the SW steps to Beall Hall.
Steve Larson is a professor at the University of Oregon, where he teaches undergraduate courses in basic musicianship and graduate seminars on a variety of topics; he is also a member of the UO Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences. In the School of Music, he leads THEME, a group of faculty and graduate students interested in music research.
Larson has two degrees from the University of Oregon: a B.A. in music from the Honors College, and an M.A. in music theory. He also has a Ph.D. in music theory from the University of Michigan, where his dissertation, "Schenkerian Analysis of Modern Jazz," was supported by a Rackham Fellowship and was nominated for an Outstanding Dissertation Award. In 1992–93 and again in 2002–03, Larson was a Visiting Faculty Research Associate at Douglas Hofstadter's Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition of Indiana University. He has also taught at the University of Washington (1994–96) and Temple University (1987–92).
Larson's publications, presentations, performances, and recordings reflect his interests in music theory, cognitive science, and jazz. Larson's publications in journals, books, and conference proceedings deal with Schenkerian theory, performance and analysis, jazz, the pedagogy of musicianship, and music cognition. His articles appear in leading journals of music theory and in journals of other disciplines: American Music, Annual Review of Jazz Studies, College Music Symposium, In Theory Only, Indiana Theory Review, Journal of Aesthetic Education, Journal of Music Theory, Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, Metaphor and Symbol, Music Analysis, Music Perception, Music Theory Spectrum, Perspectives of New Music, Theory and Practice, Dutch Journal of Music Theory, and Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature.
He has contributed material to a number of books: The New Grove Dictionary of American Music; The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz; Virtual Music: Computer Synthesis of Musical Style; Music, Gestalt, and Computing: Studies in Cognitive and Systematic Musicology; and Schenker Studies III: A Festschrift for Carl Schachter. Prentice-Hall will publish his Schenkerian Analysis—Pattern, Form, Expressive Meaning, and Pendragon Press will publish his Analyzing Jazz—A Schenkerian Perspective.
A sought-after speaker, Larson has made dozens of presentations to universities throughout the United States and to scholarly conferences in Europe and North America. His recordings include a jazz compact disc titled Portfolio, to which he contributed compositions, arrangements, and piano improvisations. As a countertenor, he has performed with various early-music ensembles, including Ars Musica. As a jazz pianist, Larson performs as a soloist and as a member of a number of groups including the Jazz Piano Collective and The Steve Larson Trio.