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William Schuman

William Schuman

William Schuman


William Howard Schuman (August 4, 1910–February 15, 1992) was an American composer and music administrator. Born in the Bronx in New York City to Samuel and Rachel Schuman, Schuman was named after the twenty-seventh U.S. president, William Howard Taft (although his family preferred to call him Bill). Schuman played the violin and banjo as a child, but his overwhelming passion was baseball. While still in high school, he formed a dance band, "Billy Schuman and his Alamo Society Orchestra" Read more on Last.fm
William Howard Schuman (August 4, 1910–February 15, 1992) was an American composer and music administrator. Born in the Bronx in New York City to Samuel and Rachel Schuman, Schuman was named after the twenty-seventh U.S. president, William Howard Taft (although his family preferred to call him Bill). Schuman played the violin and banjo as a child, but his overwhelming passion was baseball. While still in high school, he formed a dance band, "Billy Schuman and his Alamo Society Orchestra", that played local weddings and bar mitzvahs (Schuman played string bass in the band). In 1928 he entered New York University's School of Commerce to pursue a business degree, at the same time working for an advertising agency.

He also wrote popular songs with E. B. Marks, Jr., a friend he had met long before at summer camp. About then Schuman met lyricist Frank Loesser and wrote some forty songs with him.

(Indeed, Loesser's first published song, "In Love with a Memory of You", credits the music to William H. Schuman.) On April 13, 1930, Schuman went with his older sister, Audrey, to a Carnegie Hall concert of the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. The program included works by Wagner, Kodály, and Schumann. Of this experience, Schuman later said, "I was astounded at seeing the sea of stringed instruments, and everybody bowing together.

The visual thing alone was astonishing. But the sound! I was overwhelmed. I had never heard anything like it. The very next day, I decided to become a composer." Schuman dropped out of school and quit his part-time job to study music at the Malkin Conservatory with Max Persin and Charles Haubiel.

From 1933 to 1938 he studied privately with Roy Harris. In 1935, Schuman received his B.S. degree in Music Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Harris brought Schuman to the attention of the conductor Serge Koussevitzky, who championed many of his works.

Koussevitzky conducted Schuman's Symphony No. 2 in 1939. Possibly Schuman's best known symphony, the Symphony for Strings, was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation, dedicated to the memory of Natalie Koussevitzky, and was first performed under Koussevitzky on November 12, 1943. In 1943 he won the inaugural Pulitzer Prize for Music for his cantata, A Free Song, adapted from poems by Walt Whitman. From 1935 to 1945, he taught composition at Sarah Lawrence College.

In 1945, he became president of the Juilliard School of Music, founding the Juilliard String Quartet while there. He left in 1961 to become the first president of Lincoln Center, a position he held until 1969. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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