American Muse: the Life and Times of William Schuman
This is a fascinating book, by Joseph W. Polisi, who became the 6th President of the Julliard School in 1984.
No, it’s not Robert Schumann, who lived in the 1800’s and composed 4 symphonies, the famous Piano concerto, some chamber music, and a whole lot of wonderful Lieder. It’s the American Schuman; Although his grandparents hailed from Germany, as well…
William Schuman was born in 1910 and he died in 1992. He was a prolific composer, and also the President of The Juilliard School from 1945 to 1961 and of Lincoln Center from 1962 to 1968. As such, Schuman was a leader in multiple roles:
1. He had an on-going vision of what music education ought to be like in the US. He was an admired administrator, organizer, fund-raiser and educator.
2. He was a tenacious expert in implementing that vision
3. He developed a love for music and for composing rather late in life, and he executed on that love by completing many compositions that uniquely represent his style.
The book by Polisi takes us on a fascinating journey to gain an understanding of the man, his parents and grandparents, as well as the life, values, and the leaders in New York City during the early 1900’s. This book is beautifully written, with many interesting historical events, as well as the inside stories of how some of our major musical institutions were funded and built.
To learn more about the book, and to hear samples of Schuman’s compositions, click here: