Stephen Paulus was born in Summit, New Jersey, but his family moved to Minnesota when he was two. After graduating from Alexander Ramsey High School in Roseville, MN, he attended the University of Minnesota, where he studied with Paul Fetler and eventually earned a Ph.D. in composition in 1978. By 1983, he was named the Composer-in-Residence at the Minnesota Orchestra, and in 1988 he was also named to the same post at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, whose then-conductor Robert Shaw commissioned numerous choral works from Paulus for Shaw's eponymous vocal ensemble. After the premiere of his second opera, The Postman Always Rings Twice, he began a fruitful collaboration with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis that would result in four more operas. In 1997, he was awarded the Brock Commission from the American Choral Directors Association.
In a career which encompassed more than forty years of composition his output came to include over 450 works for chorus, orchestra, chamber ensemble, opera, solo voice, piano, guitar, organ, and band. Paulus lived in the Twin Cities area.
On July 4, 2013, Paulus suffered a stroke. He died from medical complications on October 19, 2014, aged 65.
Photo credit - Sharolyn Hagen Photography