Cohn was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. His father was an attorney who wrote chamber music as a hobby whilst his mother was a dancer and violinist and his sister a flutist. Cohn studied the clarinet as a child and later, classical guitar. Cohn attended Whitman College in Washington and finished his Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in music at California State University at Northridge.
Stephen's first public work came courtesy of the mid-1960s folk quartet The Pleasure Fair, also featuring guitarist and songwriter Robb Royer (later of the popular 1970's band Bread). This group, with Stephen on guitar and assisting with vocal arrangements, released their first single in 1966 under the name of The Rainy Day People, before becoming The Pleasure Fair and issuing a self-titled LP the following year. In 1973 Stephen also released a self-titled solo album on Motown Records.
His first string quartet, Eye of Chaos was premiered by the Arditti Quartet, who also recorded the work for release on an Albany Records CD entitled, Arditti Quartet California Composers. His chamber orchestra work, Noah’s Rhythm was premiered at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, conducted by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Steven Stucky. He has been invited twice to be Composer in Residence at The International Musical Encounters of Catalonia which he attended in the south of France. His violin duet, Matin Sur les Collines de Ceret was performed at the Otzberg Summer Festival in Germany. In 2006, his orchestral work Finale, from Two Together, an American Folk Music Suite was premiered by the Kansas City Symphony. The same work is part of an At Peace Media CD release which won at Parents’ Choice Gold Award in 2003. Also in 2006, his work for choir and chamber orchestra commissioned by the Foundation for Universal Sacred Music, entitled The Family of God was premiered at Merkin Hall in New York City.
He was given an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Music” for his chamber orchestra score for the documentary "Dying with Dignity", starring Colleen Dewhurst. He has also been given awards and commissions by American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, The American Composers Forum, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, The Harris Foundation, Joan Palevsky, Carol and Joel Honigberg, The Television Academy of Arts and Sciences and The Parent’s Choice Foundation.
A selected list of performances of music by Stephen Cohn is below.
- Eye of Chaos - Los Angeles - 1991, Belgium - 1993, London - 1995, Ceret, France - 2004,
- Noah's Rhythm - Los Angeles - 1994
- Matin Sur Les Collines de Ceret Ceret, France - 1996, 2002, Otzberg, Germany - 2004,
- Moods Of a Goddess - Chicago, 2000, Ceret, France - 2002,
- Out of the Ashes - Ceret, France - 2002,
- Anticipation of Light - The International Musical Encounters of Catalonia - 2004,
- Where is Peace? - Mixed Choir - Fort Worth - 2004
- Evolution and Remembrance - Ceret, France - 2004,
- The Family of God - Merkin Hall, New York City - 2006,
- Finale, from Two Together, An American Folk Music Suite - Kansas City Symphony - 2007,
- Metaphors and Contrasts - The Midnight Winds - Los Angeles - 2008,
- Anticipation of Light - The Jung Trio - Los Angeles - 2008,
- Essay for Guitar - Shiri Coneh - Berlin - 2009
- A Warrior's Paradox - Stephen B. Cook - Los Angeles - 2010,
- Moods of a Goddess - Stephen B. Cook - Los Angeles - 2010,
- Seven Dances - Stephen B. Cook - Los Angeles - 2010,
Film and TV Scores
A selected list of material that has been used or featured in film and television pieces, is found below.
- Dying with Dignity - Emmy Award - Outstanding Achievement in Music,
- Calrton,Your Doorman - MTM Productions/CBS - Emmy Award Winning Production,
- Nickel and Dime - feature film - Columbia/RCA
- Hunger in the Promised Land - Emmy Award Winning Production,
- IT - ABC Television - Emmy Award Winning Production,
- Land of the Free - feature film, PM Entertainment,
- Pitch - feature film, Nucleus Entertainment,
- Angelfist - feature film, Concorde/New Horizons,
- Normality – short film, Tango Productions,
- Under the Rainbow – feature film (orchestrations) - Warner Brothers Pictures
- "Member Bio:Stephen Cohn". American Composers forum. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Tim Hallinan's blog
- Listing of Hanna Barbara singles
- Image at James Lindquist's Website
- "Gracenotes:Renowned Composer Stephen Cohn Counts Sibelius Among His Essential Tools". December 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Two Together, An American Folk music Suite". Parent's Choice. Retrieved 2008-01-10.