Suzanne Stephens was born in Waterloo, Iowa, USA. She studied clarinet in Washington, D.C. with Sidney Forrest, in Paris with Ulysses Delecluse, with Jerome Stowell at Northwestern University (near Chicago) where she received the degrees Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music, and with Hans Deinzer at the State Conservatory for Music and Theatre in Hannover where she received the Konzertexamen diploma.
In their twenty-nine years of friendship, Stockhausen has written over 40 compositions for her. Scarcely has there been so fruitful a relationship between clarinetist and composer writes Pamela Weston in her book Clarinet Virtuosi of Today (Pamela Weston: Clarinet Virtuosi of Today, Verlag Egon Publishers, London 1989. All sentences in quotation marks are excerpts from this book).
After winning a silver medal at the International Clarinet Competition in Geneva and the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis at Darmstadt, both in 1972, she was appointed as principal clarinettist in the Radio Orchestra of the South German Radio in Stuttgart in 1973. Since the beginning of their collaboration in 1974, Stockhausen has poured forth a constant stream of works for clarinet, basset-horn and bass clarinet, which she has performed world-wide countless times.
In LICHT Stockhausen has composed a monumental basset-horn part for Suzanne in the role of EVE which to date consists of nearly six hours of music (THURSDAY from LIGHT world première in 1981 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, new staging in 1985 at the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in London; MONDAY from LIGHT world première in 1988 at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan; FRIDAY from LIGHT world première at the Leipzig Opera in 1996; MICHAELION, 4th scene of WEDNESDAY from LIGHT world première in 1998 at the Prinzregenten-Theater, Munich). She has performed these works and individual scenes of these operas in innumerable concerts.
Helping with the edition (scores and records) of the works which have been written for her is very important to her, as is helping the many clarinettists who seek out her help in learning these works. Her main preoccupation is to ensure that these works are guaranteed an unlimited future in our musical life. To date, recordings with Suzanne Stephens have been documented on the following compact discs of the Complete Stockhausen Edition:
CD 18 STERNKLANG; CD 22 INORI; CD 25 HARLEKIN DER KLEINE HARLEKIN; CD 26 SIRIUS; CD 27 TRAUM-FORMEL IN FREUNDSCHAFT AMOUR; CD 30 THURSDAY from LIGHT; CD 31 UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE; CD 32 15 Compositions for Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Basset-horn; CD 35 AVE TIERKREIS Trio Version; CD 36 MONDAY from LIGHT; CD 39 Mozarts Clarinet Concerto in A with Stockhausens cadenzas; CD 43 EXAMEN; CD 50 FRIDAY from LIGHT; CD 55 BASSETSU-TRIO; CD 64 EUROPA-GRUSS; CD 65 10 Scenes of FRIDAY.