William Schuman

Born August 4, 1910 in New York, New York
Died February 15, 1992 USA




Modern 1920-Present


Symphony for Strings

William Schuman


Born in New York on August 4, 1910, William Schuman began composing while still in high school. He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Columbia University Teachers College, later studying with the composer Roy Harris at Juilliard. It was Roy Harris who introduced the young Schuman to the conductor Serge Koussevitzky. Maestro Koussevitzky conducted the first performance of American Festival Overture written by Schuman in 1939. Schuman was awarded the first New York Music Critic’s Circle Award for his Symphony No. 3. Schuman liked to include American folk song melodies and jazz tunes in his works, but still experimented with modern sounds and dissonances. His cantata, A Free Song, composed in 1943, received a Pulitzer Prize.

Named President of the Juilliard School of Music in 1945, Schuman expanded the curriculum to include the art of dance. He was also the founder of The Julliard String Quartet and developed the widely used “Literature and Materials of Music Approach to the Study of Music.” . In 1962, Schuman became President of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. His distinguished career included the following positions: Director of the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Chamber Music Society of London, National Educational Television. The National Medal of Arts was awarded to Schuman in 1987. Schuman as was also elected to The Royal Academy of Music in England and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Schuman died on February 15, 1992, a composer and musical leader of our times.