Paul Paccione was born in New York City in 1952.
Paccione’s love of the popular music of the 1950’s and 1960’s awakened his initial musical interests. He studied classical guitar and music theory at the Mannes College of Music (B.M. 1974). While at Mannes, he was influenced by composer Eric Richards to begin composition study. Subsequently, he began private composition studies with composer Harley Gaber. He continued composition studies at the University of California, San Diego, with composer Kenneth Gaburo (M.A., 1977). He later studied composition with composer/conductor William Hibbard, at the University of Iowa (Ph.D., 1984).
Paccione joined the music faculty at Western Illinois University in 1984. During his teaching career at Western, he received six Faculty Excellence Awards, was named the 1988 Outstanding Teacher in the College of Fine Arts and received the Outstanding Creativity Award from Western’s College of Fine Arts in 1988 and 2012. He was named Western Illinois University’s Distinguished Faculty Lecturer for 2002 — the first Music faculty member to be so recognized. He was co-founder and co-director of Western’s annual New Music Festival. He retired from W.I.U. in 2018 as Emeritus Professor of Music Theory/Composition.
He is an active composer whose works are widely and frequently performed, both nationally and internationally. He has composed music for acoustic instruments, voices, and electronics and he has written music for both dance and opera. He has maintained a sustained interest and attachment to vocal music and has set to music texts by Arnaut Daniel, Thomas Campion, John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Christina Rossetti, and Stéphane Mallarmé. In December of 2014, Western Illinois University’s Opera Theatre Company presented first performances of his opera The World Is Round, based on the children’s book by Gertrude Stein.
He has been described as “a composer who has a personality of his own and the ability to express that personality within more than one musical idiom” (Music Web International, 2010). His music has been described as “consistently compelling, and often extraordinarily moving” (Fanfare, 2010); and characterized by “lyricism, clarity and eloquence” (Textura, 2021). Paccione’s music is published by Frog Peak Music, Lingua Press, American Composers Edition, and SCI Journal of Music Scores. In 2012, New World Records released a recording (Our Beauties Are Not Ours) devoted entirely to his chamber and vocal music. A recording of his most recent solo piano music was released in October, 2021 (MUSIC FOR PIANO, Navona Records). Additional recordings of his music are available on the Frog Peak, Navona Records, and Capstone labels.
He has lectured and written numerous articles on various aspects of modern music. His writings on music have appeared in Perspectives of New Music, ex tempore, College Music Symposium, American Music, the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy and as liner notes for New World Records. He has been a frequent pre concert lecturer for the Chicago Symphony.