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>  News Releases >   2007 >   December

Dartmouth music professor receives NEH fellowship

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 12/17/07 • Susan Knapp • (603) 646-3661

Steve Swayne
Steve Swayne (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has granted a one-year fellowship to Associate Professor of Music Steve Swayne. Swayne will use the support to complete a book about American composer William Schuman (1912-1992), the first person ever to receive a Pulitzer Prize for music in 1943.

"William Schuman contributed so much to American music, not only through his many compositions but also through his leadership as president of the Juilliard School and as president of New York City's Lincoln Center," says Swayne. "A comprehensive book about his life and music is long overdue, and I'm grateful that the NEH recognizes the value of this project."

According to Swayne, Schuman wasn't afraid to reach new audiences or to appeal to the popular aspects of America's culture. "Schuman went toe-to-toe with Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, and Roy Harris in terms of name recognition among audiences. In the middle of the twentieth century, he chalked up as many performances as any of them," says Swayne. Schuman's symphonies and quartets especially were routinely heard in concert halls, on the radio, and through critically acclaimed recordings.

Schuman also left a wealth of research materials, which, Swayne says, have yet to be sufficiently studied by scholars. The fellowship will allow Swayne to delve further into the William Schuman Papers at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and Schuman's music manuscripts at the Library of Congress. Swayne is eager to learn more about who and what influenced Schuman and to discover the various people and institutions that Schuman helped to shape.

Swayne's research thus far has focused on Schuman's role as educator, citizen, businessman, administrator, and artist up until 1950. Because of this work, Swayne is increasingly considered the leading authority on Schuman.

In his proposal to the NEH, Swayne wrote, "Several colleagues routinely ask me about my research and when they might expect a book. They know, as I do, that Schuman profoundly shaped America's musical landscape and that his story has not been adequately told."

Support from the NEH will extend Swayne's sabbatical, allowing him the time and resources to focus on completing the book. NEH Fellowships support individuals pursuing scholarly projects that contribute to the public's understanding of the humanities. Swayne is one of about 90 people this year to be funded from an applicant pool of nearly 1,200.

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