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Schuman, William

Schuman, William

Born in 1910


Inducted in 1999

Schuman grew up in New York City, where he attended George Washington High School. After high school graduation he enrolled in the business school at New York University only to change his career heading after seeing The New York Philharmonic perform. Schuman immediately began studying in summer courses at the Julliard School in 1932 and 1933 and in the conducting program at Salzburg Mozarteum in 1935. He completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Columbia University Teachers College in 1935 and 1937. In 1938 Schuman won a composition contest for his Second Symphony. This led to The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s major interest in Schuman’s pieces. From 1935 to 1945 Schuman taught at Sarah Lawrence College. From 1945 to 1952 he worked for G. Schirmer, Inc., serving three years as director of publications, and the final four years as special editorial consultant. He served as president of the Julliard School from 1945 to 1962, where he formed the Julliard String Quartet. Later he became president of Lincoln Center and promoted the commissioning and performing of American works, created a center-wide community education program, founded the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Film Society, brought the Julliard School to Lincoln Center, and initiated summer concert series. In 1969 he retired from that position in order to devote more time to composing. He continued, however, to serve other organizations in a voluntary capacity. In Schuman’s lifetime he received many awards: two consecutive Guggenheim fellowships, two Pulitzer prizes, the first Brandeis University Creative Arts Award in music, membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and many others. In 1981 Columbia University established the William Schuman Award, a $50,000 prize given to a composer for lifetime achievement – Schuman was the first recipient.