The ivories in the East Gloucester home of Stephen Scotti have been silenced with the death of a man who is being remembered by family and friends as a quintessential musician who wrote both comic and dramatic melodies about everything from his adopted town to more global matters.
At 17 years old, the pianist began paying his way through college at Boston University, in part, through his performances in the famed Scollay Square of Boston, an area often remembered as the home of vaudeville and burlesque theaters. He successfully earned his music degree. When he graduated from what is now called Cambridge Rindge & Latin high school, he was vice president of his class.
Scotti has performed in concerts and shows around Cape Ann, across the country and abroad in diverse venues, from clubs to churches and even a performance on Ireland’s Gay Byrne Show.
Those who knew Scotti spoke this week of the musical void resulting from his death.
Ron Gilson, a friend, experienced what so many others did when Scotti came by on a work call.
”He would come over to tune our piano, and he would give us a concert for two hours and in between he’d tighten a couple of strings — and I didn’t care if he tuned anything,” said Gilson. “We’d have a houseful of people here listening by the time he finished.”
Scotti once explained during an interview that he taught, wrote and performed in the Bardic tradition, a style prevalent in Europe and old England, where bards composed and sang of the places from which they came.
Those compositions include several pieces about Dogtown, the wild interior of Cape Ann. His piece “The Wraith of Dogtown: The Last Tango in Dogtown” is about the so-called witch of Dogtown.
The song “The Dogtown Common Road,” is a musical melodrama about a true Cape Ann story to which he wrote the music to a poem written in the 1920s by Lee Cox, an early 20th century poet. He also set to music “Rock, Juniper and Wind,” a poem about Dogtown by 20th century American artist Marsden Hartley. He produced theatrical productions including “Viva Cummings,” a celebration of the poetry of e.e. cummings.