WILLIAM SCHUMAN (1910 - 1992)
William Schuman (1910–92) had several successful simultaneous careers in music, as composer, educator and administrator. After teaching for ten years at Sarah Lawrence College, he became president of the Juilliard School of Music, and then the first president of the newly inaugurated Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. Schuman was by then, according to the New York Times “probably the most powerful figure in the world of art music”. Besides his full-time positions, he found the time to be director of the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Educational Television network and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Born in New York, he started to compose while still in high school, and was soon organizing jazz ensembles. His early interest in music was focused on popular music and jazz. He studied at Columbia University Teachers College, and took private composition lessons from Roy Harris at Juilliard. Harris was a great influence, both in Schumans development as a composer and in his career. It was Harris who first interested Serge Koussevitzky in his students works. In turn, Koussevitzky was one of the first conductors to perform his music. The violinist Samuel Dushkin commissioned Schumans Violin Concerto expecting to premiere it with Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Koussevitzky, however, left the orchestra the year before the premiere (1950), which was played by Isaac Stern, and conducted by Koussevitzkys successor in Boston, Charles Munch.
Schumans compositions include the 1939 American Festival Overture, (one of his earliest successes), a Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, the ballets Undertow and Night Journey, ten symphonies, four string quartets, choral works, film scores, Credendum (commissioned by the United States government) and A Free Song, which won the first Pulitzer Prize in Music.