Orpheus in Manhattan: William Schuman and the Shaping of America’s Musical Life
William Schuman - Juilliard Years


The Juilliard Years

He told the trustees that he didn’t want the job. One trustee called the decision “either the greatest thing that has ever happened to the Juilliard School or the most colossal error of our collective lives.” The former proved to be true.

  • his selection as president of Juilliard is made public (August)
  • continues work at G. Schrimer as a special publications consultant
  • attempts to work out a recording agreement between Juilliard and Musicraft Records (September)
  • tries to woo Fritz Reiner into the Juilliard orbit (September)
  • begins his tenure as president of Juilliard (October)
  • receives a commission from Samuel Dushkin for a violin concerto “to be finished within the period of a year” (October)
  • oversees a festival of the music of Paul Hindemith (November)
  • invites Copland to join the faculty (December)
  • receives Copland’s decision not to accept the Juilliard position (January)
  • elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters
  • issues plans for an extensive reorganization of the Juilliard School of Music (January)
  • joins the board of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation (April)
  • founds the Juilliard String Quartet
  • Truth Shall Deliver (May 2)
  • Fugue for Strings (May 20–27; withdrawn “after hearing the work in rehearsal”)
  • receives an honorary Mus.D. degree from the Chicago Musical College
  • begins work on the violin concerto
  • meets with Herman Wouk to discuss a possible opera collaboration
  • begins commissioning project at Juilliard
  • receives an invitation to write a work for Martha Graham (June)
  • begins work on the Literature and Materials of Music (L&M) curriculum
  • seeks to bring the journal Modern Music under G Schirmer’s wing
  • reconnects with Blanche Schwarz Levy, his childhood violin teacher
  • implements L&M
  • revamps the Opera Theatre Unit of the school
  • announces intent to work with Musicraft to record Juilliard performances
  • Night Journey (April)
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (original version) (July 13)
  • Vincent Persichetti begins his biography on Schuman (summer)
  • begins to work with Paul Henry Lang on the direction of the Musical Quarterly
  • †Rachel Schuman (September 3)
  • writes a new ending for the Fourth Symphony (September)
  • proposes what will become the Naumburg American Composers’ Recording Prize (October)
  • visits Roger Sessions and Pierre Monteux in the San Francisco area and Igor Stravinsky, George Antheil, and Frank Loesser in the Los Angeles area (January)
  • Loesser and Cy Feuer try to talk Schuman into pursuing work on the film The Glass Menagerie (1950); Max Steiner ended up writing the original music
  • joins an advisory panel for the U.S. War Department to “make the Germans more aware of our cultural achievements and acquaint them with the best in our music” (March)
  • befriends English poet and writer Stephen Spender and his wife, pianist Natasha Litvin (April)
  • welcomes Koussevitzky on the occasion of Koussevitzky conducting the Juilliard Orchestra (May)
  • Persichetti’s work on Schuman biography is abandoned and Schreiber is brought in as a collaborator (July)
  • joins the board of the American Music Center (November)
  • becomes a corporate member of the MacDowell Association (December)
  • Symphony no. 6 (December 31)
  • recovers from “a prolonged siege of [a] virus infection” that began in late November (February)
  • is introduced to The Hither and Thither of Danny Dither by Alex North and Jeremy Gury (February)
  • hears the Sixth Symphony with Antal Doráti and the Dallas Symphony (February and March)
  • begins corresponding with Gury about collaborating on a work (March)
  • receives a commission to write the String Quartet no. 4 (May)
  • joins with the League of Composer in celebrating Koussevitzky’s twenty-fifth anniversary with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (May)
  • begins making inquiries about adopting a baby girl (May)
  • accepts commission from the Louisville Orchestra for a work for Martha Graham (May)
  • receives an honorary Mus.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin
  • Judith: Choreographic Poem for Orchestra (August 28)
  • Andrea Frances (*April 30) is adopted by Bill and Frankie (October)
  • Sam, Schuman’s father, is struck by a car (October 11)
  • wins the Naumburg Recording Prize for his Third Symphony (December)
  • Judith is premiered in Louisville (January)
  • writes to his friends in Louisville: “I would like very much to help the Louisville Orchestra launch a career in recording.” (February)
  • delivers one of the Benjamin Franklin Lectures at the University of Pennsylvania (March 23)
  • George Washington Bridge (April 17)
  • announces plans for a festival of American music in 1954–55 (June)
  • ruptures his saphenous vein in a baseball game on Martha’s Vineyard (June 25)
  • buys land on Martha’s Vineyard with thoughts of building a house (August)
  • String Quartet no. 4 (August 3)
  • contemplates moving the family back to New York City (September)
  • offers to help broker a merger between the League of Composers and the International Society for Contemporary Music–U.S. Section (November; talks break off in January)
  • receives a commission to write a piano work for Sigma Alpha Iota’s golden anniversary convention in 1953 (November)
  • †Samuel Schuman (November 29)
  • accepts election to the board of the Metropolitan Opera (December)
  • Judith and the Louisville Orchestra receive their New York premiere (December)
  • proposes that “a Department of Dance be established at the School beginning with the academic year 1951&ndash1952” (February)
  • Mercury Records releases the Louisville Orchestra’s recording of Judith and Undertow: Schuman is the conductor in the latter (April)
  • is named a Kentucky Colonel
  • †Serge Koussevitzky (June 4)
  • spends the summer on Martha’s Vineyard working on The Mighty Casey
  • Happy Birthday to You [Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist] (August 6)
  • begins his service on the juries of the BMI Student Composer Awards
  • begins discussing moving his affiliation from ASCAP to BMI
  • is relieved of his responsibilities as Director of Publications at G. Schirmer (August). Gustave Schirmer wanted it effective at the end of the year; Schuman negotiated to make it effective as of October 1)
  • writes to Theodore Dreiser’s widow for rights to An American Tragedy (December)
  • Judith receives the New York Music Critics Circle Award for music written for dance (January)
  • misses the golden anniversary Camp Cobbossee reunion because it falls on the same day as his wedding anniversary (March 27)
  • promises a band piece to the Alpha Chapter at the University of Louisville of Pi Kappa Omicron (May)
  • attends UNESCO’s International Conference of Artists (September)
  • requests personalized license plates for his two cars (November)
  • participates in the Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival (November)
  • shows Martha Graham his new piano work for Sigma Alpha Iota (December)
  • gives the premiere of The Mighty Casey to the Hartt School of Music (December)
  • resigns his membership in ASCAP and joins BMI
  • suggests a commissioning program for the Metropolitan Opera focusing on American composers (January)
  • attends the premiere of The Rake’s Progress (Stravinsky) (February 14)
  • Voyage (for piano) (April 19)
  • The Mighty Casey is premiered (May 4–6)
  • Theatre for a Voyage (for Martha Graham) (May)
  • lobbies the Rockefeller Foundation to make documentary sound films of the Martha Graham Dance Company (May)
  • receives an honorary Mus.D. degree from the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music
  • receives an honorary Mus.D. degree from the Cincinnati College of Music
  • oversees the writing of The Juilliard Report on Teaching the Literature and Materials of Music (summer–fall)
  • attends the funeral of Max Persin (December 17)
  • release of William Schuman by Flora Rheta Schreiber and Vincent Persichetti (January)
  • release and dissemination of The Juilliard Report (January)
  • inaugural issue of The Juilliard Review appears (January)
  • suggests to Marc Connelly the merger of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters (February)
  • receives a commission from André Kostelanetz for what will become the New England Triptych (March)
  • provides the quotation that appears in the Juilliard catalog: “The musician must not be content with technical proficiency alone. He must be equipped to contribute, through his profession, to the development of music as a constructive force in contemporary life.” (March)
  • backs out of a commission for the Louisville Orchestra (March)
  • sees The Last Notch by Frank Gilroy and inquires about turning it into an opera (March)
  • revises the Violin Concerto (spring–summer)
  • receives an honorary Mus.D. degree from Columbia University
  • avers in an affidavit for the International Organizations Employees Loyalty Board that “I have never known Edward B. Marks to be in the least sympathetic to any ideology not in the American tradition” and that Marks is not a Communist (June)
  • contracts infectious hepatitis (June 22); the doctor advises bed rest until mid–August, and he is not at full strength until January
  • begins systematically giving his manuscripts to the Library of Congress (September)
  • begins to consider leaving G. Schirmer for another publisher (September)
  • agrees to serve in an advisory capacity on the Music Panel for the American National Theatre and Academy’s International Exchange Program (October)
  • accepts a commission to write a work for the 75th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to be performed in the 1955–56 season (October); Schuman negotiates an extension for the 1956–57 season but does not deliver the work until the spring of 1960.
  • is elected to the Century Association (November)
  • celebrates the creations of the League of Composers–International Society for Contemporary Music, U.S. Section, Inc. (December)
  • works with CBS-TV on the live broadcast of The Mighty Casey (March 6)
  • brings Barber, Copland, Luening, Menotti, Moore, Piston, Thompson, and Thomson together for a social dinner; Sessions had a previous commitment (March 7)
  • changes the Copland Juilliard commission from a cantata to a major piano work, which Copland calls “the Piano Fantasy” (March)
  • challenges the New York Philharmonic to program more American music (April)
  • receives an invitation to composer what will become Three Moods for Piano (May)
  • is approached to write a work for the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO through the U.S. Department of State (June)
  • sends Tony to Camp Cobbossee for the first time (summer)
  • is approached to contribute a hymn for an anthology of American hymns (July)
  • begins seriously to pursue the possibility of Juilliard joining the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic in the Lincoln Square redevelopment project (September)
  • Credendum (September 6)
  • exchanges gifts with Soviet pianist Emil Gilels for their respective schools (November)
  • fends off concerns from two female composers about the fact that the upcoming Festival of American music has no music by women composers on it (December)
  • settles on recasting the William Billings Overture into the New England Triptych (December)
  • reads Rochberg’s study on twelve-tone music (December)
  • selects Theodore Presser, Co., as his publisher (January)
  • asks Langston Hughes if he has “other lyrics suitable for choral setting” (January)
  • The Lord Has A Child (January 20)
  • tells Copland that the possibility of relocating to Lincoln Square “remains a far-fetched possibility” (February)
  • Copland follows Schuman’s lead from the previous year and brings colleagues together for dinner (March 26)
  • takes a trip to the University of Iowa, the MENC conference (St. Louis), and the West Coast (April)
  • receives an honorary Mus.D. degree from the Hartt School of Music
  • New England Triptych (June 12)
  • Four Rounds on Famous Words (mid-July)
  • writes to his new publisher: “I am most anxious to develop my catalog with you in terms of music that will have wide use” (July 20)
  • Chester: Overture for Band (July 30)
  • travels to Florida to hear premiere of New England Triptych and to speak to the Florida State Music Teachers’ Association (October)
  • Walter Naumburg informs Schuman of his wish that Schuman “protect the artistic level of [the Foundation’s] activities” after Naumburg’s death (November)
  • receives a commission to write the score for The Earth Is Born (November)
  • is informed of being the recipient of the first-ever Brandeis Creative Arts Award in Music (November)
  • commends Rochberg to Doris Humphrey (February)
  • The Earth Is Born (March 10)
  • spends a holiday in Tucson (March)
  • encourages Rochberg to abandon the twelve-tone system (May)
  • comes up empty in his search for ideas for the Boston Symphony Orchestra commission (June)
  • studies Copland’s Piano Fantasy (summer)
  • †Robert Schuman (August 31)
  • attends the New York opening of West Side Story (September 26)
  • writes on behalf of the Juilliard String Quartet on the occasion of their tenth anniversary (October)
  • visits San Francisco to get some ideas about Juilliard at Lincoln Square (November)
  • attends the premiere of Stravinsky’s Agon (December 1)
  • stands his ground on refusing to allow the entire Juilliard Orchestra to appear in Beirut if its single Israeli member is not allowed to join them (January)
  • suggests Persichetti’s Twentieth-Century Harmony to W. W. Norton (February)
  • When Jesus Wept: Prelude for Solo Cornet, Solo Baritone (Euphonium) and Band (February 27)
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (second revision) (March 3)
  • manages the repercussions of Van Cliburn’s success in Moscow (April–May)
  • accedes to be considered for the position of music advisor to the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) (May)
  • accepts a commission from St. Lawrence University (June)
  • accompanies the Juilliard Orchestra on its European tour and calls on various U.S. Information Service offices during his travels abroad (June–August)
  • Three Moods for Piano (September 4)
  • joins the Advisory Committee on Cultural Information for USIA (September)
  • Carols of Death (October 4)
  • invites Harris, Kay, Mennin, and Sessions to speak to Juilliard students about the composers’ recent visit to the Soviet Union (November)
  • reorganizes the editorial board for The Julliard Review (November)
  • Choruses from The Mighty Casey (November)
  • speaks out on behalf of a cabinet-level position for the arts in the federal government (December)
  • proposes the merger of the High School of Performing Arts with the High School of Music and Art (December)
  • accepts a commission from the Philadelphia Orchestra (January)
  • accepts a commission from the Ford Foundation for a work for cello and orchestra (February)
  • is elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music (February)
  • attends the premiere of Weisgall’s Six Characters in Search of an Author (April 26)
  • requests the collected works of Webern “as part of my customary yearly endeavor to learn some music that I have not previously known as well as I should like or, in this case, perhaps should” (June)
  • travels to Aspen for the premiere of the final version of the Violin Concerto (August)
  • Celebration Concertante (September 13)
  • invites Copland to serve as narrator in Lincoln Portrait (September; concert is February 19)
  • is elected as president of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation (early fall)
  • begins (?) Variations on a 12-tone Theme for Piano (November 9)
  • leads Juilliard to resign its membership in the National Association of Schools of Music for ethical reasons (November)
  • requests that Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra return the Celebration Concertante; “I am hard at work on an opening movement which when added to the former CELEBRATION CONCERTANTE will become Symphony No. VII.” (December)
  • presents a plan of commissioning works for Juilliard’s Lincoln Center opening (December)
  • accepts a commission from the New York Philharmonic (February)
  • attends the premiere of Loesser’s Greenwillow (March 8)
  • corresponds with Lincoln Kirstein about the potential dance instruction problems at Lincoln Center (March)
  • suggests a program to Bernstein in honor of his and Barber’s 50th birthdays and Schumann’s 150th: his Third Symphony; Barber’s Violin Concerto; and Schumann’s Fourth Symphony. Bernstein substitutes Schumann’s Third (“Rhenish”) (March; the concert took place on October 13–16)
  • Martha Graham’s film of Night Journey is completed (spring)
  • Symphony no. 7, first movement (May 9)
  • offers the theme from the first movement of his Seventh Symphony as the basis for Masquerade, an omnibus dance score composed by Juilliard faculty (June)
  • receives an honorary L.H.D. degree from Colgate University
  • accepts a commission from BMI, which he fulfills with the Variations on “America” in 1963 (June)
  • completes (?) Variations on a 12-tone Theme for Piano (August 9)
  • travels to Europe with Frankie and Andrea (August–September)
  • throws a birthday bash at Juilliard for Copland’s 60th (November 14–15)
  • is told by his physician to cut back on his activities (mid-November)
  • sends Pres. and Mrs. Kennedy a letter with the opening four measures of “Chester” and the words of the first stanza (January)
  • presents his idea for a Lincoln Center Teachers’ Institute (March)
  • speaks at the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (April 22)
  • receives an honorary Mus.D. degree from Allegheny College
  • A Song of Orpheus (Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra) (July 4)
  • speaks at a seminar on contemporary music at Tanglewood (July 21)
  • explores turning the first movement of New England Triptych into a band piece; he gives instructions to Calvert Bean at Theodore Presser on what to do (August–September)
  • receives a letter from 12-year-old Christopher Rouse (August)
  • Rockefeller approaches Schuman for the presidency of Lincoln Center (August 16; the news breaks on September 13)
  • writes a memo to himself, “Thoughts on Lincoln Center” (September 29)
  • recommends Persichetti as his successor at Juilliard (October)
  • attends the premiere of Robert Ward’s The Crucible (October 26)
  • submits a statement to the Select Subcommittee on Education (U.S. Department of Labor) on “What can Congress do… to strengthen cultural institutions by improving conditions for performing artists?” (November)
  • hears from Elia Kazan on the importance of film at Lincoln Center (November)
  • tries to convince the Manhattan School of Music to purchase the Morningside Heights campus (November)
  • recommends Robert Rudié for the Riverdale School (December)
  • is named President Emeritus of Juilliard (December)