Stephen Scott was born in Corvallis, Oregon in 1944 to parents trained in the sciences; early study of music included tutoring in recorder in England, clarinet and saxophone in school bands, and private study and transcription of recordings by Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Gil Evans, Oliver Nelson and John Coltrane in high school. After studying composition with Homer Keller at the University of Oregon and Gerald Shapiro at Brown, he met and studied informally with Steve Reich in Ghana. Later he collaborated with Terry Riley, and these two composers became his most important influences outside jazz. Scott is a Emeritus Professor of Music at Colorado College. He has served on the faculty of The Evergreen State College and as visiting composer at Eastman School of Music, Aspen Music School, New England Conservatory, Princeton University, University of Southern California, Cal Arts, and at festivals and conservatories in Germany, France, Italy, Estonia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Ireland, Norway, England, Canary Islands, Bermuda, New Zealand and Australia. He was named 2008 USA Simon Fellow by United States Artists, and in 2004 he was a resident scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center on Lake Como, Italy.
Scott is listed in New Grove's Dictionary of American Music and Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, and his work is discussed in several books on twentieth-century music. Awards include commissions from Meet the Composer/USA, Pacific Symphony and the Barlow Endowment, a grant from the Peter S. Reed Foundation, the New England Conservatory/Rockefeller Foundation Chamber Music Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Composer's Fellowship. His music may be heard on the New Albion, Navona and Albany labels. Film and television credits include Traffic (DVD version), Egg: the Arts Show (PBS) and the NBC special Revenge of the Whale. Scott lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Victoria Hansen, who tours with the Bowed Piano Ensemble as soprano soloist.