Orpheus in Manhattan: William Schuman and the Shaping of America's Musical Life

Orpheus in Manhattan: William Schuman and the Shaping of America's Musical Life

by Steve Swayne
     
 

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Winner of the ASCAP Nicolas Slonimsky Award for Outstanding Musical Biography

The musical landscape of New York City and the United States of America would look quite different had it not been for William Schuman. Orpheus in Manhattan, a fully objective and comprehensive biography of Schuman, portrays a man who had a profound influence upon the artistic and

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Overview

Winner of the ASCAP Nicolas Slonimsky Award for Outstanding Musical Biography

The musical landscape of New York City and the United States of America would look quite different had it not been for William Schuman. Orpheus in Manhattan, a fully objective and comprehensive biography of Schuman, portrays a man who had a profound influence upon the artistic and political institutions of his day and beyond. Steve Swayne draws heavily upon Schuman's letters, writings, and manuscripts as well as unprecedented access to archival recordings and previously unknown correspondence. The winner of the first Pulitzer Prize in Music, Schuman composed music that is rhythmically febrile, harmonically pungent, melodically long-breathed, and timbrally brilliant, and Swayne offers an astute analysis of his work, including many unpublished music scores. Swayne also describes Schuman's role as president of the Juilliard School of Music and of Lincoln Center, tracing how he both expanded the boundaries of music education and championed the performing arts. Filled with new discoveries and revisions of the received historical narrative, Orpheus in Manhattan confirms Schuman as a major figure in America's musical life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Pianist and composer Swayne... devotes equal space to a thorough analysis of Schuman's work as a composer and to discussing his considerable influence on the educational and artistic institutions of his day and beyond... Swayne's work reflects on the cultural, social, and political achievements of a musical giant. For scholars of Schuman and American music and aficionados of both." —Library Journal

"This author clearly likes people and clearly he has charmed many into helping make this hugely detailed book a brilliant success... Strongly recommended." —James Tobin, Classical Net

"Even if Schuman, no Orpheus, shaped American musical life more as administrator than creator, the present book is a fascinating study in power plays in the higher spheres of America's arts world." —Benjamin Ivry, Newark Star-Ledger

"Swayne has pursued his research with a voracious diligence."
—Walter Simmons, Fanfare

"An objective, detailed account illustrating Schuman's roles as composer, administrator, husband, father, and friend...A well written, well documented, and totally thorough biographical work." —Notes

"Brilliantly penetrates through to the tough soul of America's symphonist and is documented with 100 pages of notes and a bibliography." —Gramophone

"Swayne's Orpheus in Manhattan is a triumph of archival research, and a testament to the length of William Schuman's reach across the century. It is well worth a reader's time following him there." —Journal of the American Musicological Society

"Swayne's biography seems poised to provide the definitive scholarly account of Schuman for the foreseeable future and articulates the kinds of issues that make a figure like Schuman such a compelling biographical subject." —American Music

"Orpheus in Manhattan is a remarkable achievement: a much-needed, well-researched, and beautifully crafted examination of an influential educator, administrator, and composer...It will certainly prove an indispensable resource to all those interested in the American music scene in the middle decades of the twentieth century."—Journal of the Society for American Music

Library Journal
William Schuman (1910–92) united musical creativity with a passion for the arts as a social phenomenon. Pianist and composer Swayne (music, Dartmouth Coll.) here devotes equal space to a thorough analysis of Schuman's work as a composer and to discussing his considerable influence on the educational and artistic institutions of his day and beyond. Relying heavily on Schuman's extensive correspondence and memoirs—and indicating where gaps exist—Swayne profiles a man whose leadership of Juilliard and Lincoln Center had perhaps as great an impact on American music as did his composition. How Schuman balanced, or failed to balance, these often competing priorities is as fascinating as his achievements in both. To read this biography is to journey through a life inextricably intertwined with America's greatest composers, musical works, and performers of the 20th century. VERDICT Schuman has not had a complete biography until recently; now, together with Joseph W. Polisi's American Muse: The Life and Times of William Schuman, Swayne's work reflects on the cultural, social, and political achievements of a musical giant. For scholars of Schuman and American music and aficionados of both.—Genevieve Williams, Pacific Lutheran Univ. Lib., Tacoma, WA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199367849
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/01/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
712
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.80(d)

Meet the Author

Steve Swayne is Jacob H. Strauss 1922 Professor of Music, and Music Department Chair at Dartmouth College. He is also an accomplished concert pianist and an award-winning composer.

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