The Kennedy Center

William Schuman


William Schuman
(composer/teacher, born August 4, 1910, New York, New York; died February 15, 1992)

Leonard Bernstein extols the "human qualities" of composer William Schuman's work: "compassion, fidelity, insight, and total honesty." Yet these attributes are not confined to his musical compositions. In a wide-ranging career, Schuman has addressed his ample talents to shaping the American musical experience as well.

Schuman, whose early childhood was more concerned with baseball than with music, wrote his first piece--a tango--at age 16. Popular music and songs gave way to concert works as his studies progressed at Columbia University Teachers College and later with composer Roy Harris, who became a strong influence. Serge Koussevitzky conducted the first performances of the American Festival Overture (1939). The Symphony No. 3, which established Schuman as a major American composer, won the first New York Music Critics' Circle Award.

While continuing to compose, Schuman embarked on a teaching and administrative career of similar stature. Named president of the Juilliard School in 1945, he was responsible for, among other things, the founding of the Juilliard String Quartet, the addition of a dance division, and development of the integrated "LITERATUREAND MATERIALS OF MUSICAPPROACH TO THE STUDY MUSIC. HE ASSUMED PRESIDENCY LINCOLN CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS IN 1962 WHERE FOUNDED CHAMBER SOCIETY AS WELL SUPPORTING COMMISSIONING PERFORMANCE AMERICAN WORKSSUMMER SERIES A CITY SCHOOLS PROGRAM.

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