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Joseph Schwantner

Joseph Schwantner

Country of origin: United States of America
Birthday: March 22, 1943

About Joseph Schwantner

If there's any more gorgeous contemporary music than Joseph Schwantner's I've yet to hear it...for sheer beauty of sound it's unsurpassed. One could also add that Schwantner has a canny theatrical sense—his music is always at some level dramatic, never abstract—and that his characteristic idiom, a blending of modal melody with both enriched triadic and highly chromatic harmonies, minimalist ostinatos, and prismatic, floridly ornamented scorings, is used with so much skill and resourcefulness that the listener never notices how disparate are the elements thus unified. Everything works to create the desired sensuous and emotional effusion.
– Mark Lehman, The American Record Guide

Born in Chicago in 1943, Joseph Schwantner received his musical and academic training at the Chicago Conservatory and Northwestern University. While developing a profile as a leading American composer, he also served on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music and the Yale School of Music, simultaneously establishing himself as a sought after composition instructor. His music is noted for its deft implementation of luminous color and fluctuating rhythms in a dramatic and unique style.

Schwantner has enjoyed particular success in the orchestral world. His Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, among the most often performed of contemporary concert works, was commissioned for the 150th anniversary season of the New York Philharmonic. New Morning for the World: Daybreak of Freedom on words from Martin Luther King, Jr. for narrator and orchestra has entered the standard repertory of orchestras nationwide. Following the premiere of Schwantner’s Morning’s Embrace by the National Symphony Orchestra in 2006, The Washington Post praised the work's “delicate timbres” and “unique and original” sound. In 2007, Schwantner was selected as the composer for the second cycle of Ford Made in America, the nation's largest commissioning consortium of orchestras spearheaded by the League of American Orchestras and Meet the Composer. The resulting work, Chasing Light… received its world premiere with the Reno Chamber Orchestra in September of 2008 and completed its tour of over fifty orchestras in all fifty states in the Fall of 2010.

Schwantner’s music has been championed by such conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Andrew Litton, Hugh Wolff and artists including Evelyn Glennie, Sharon Isbin and Anne Akiko Meyers, among many others. He has been commissioned by numerous leading orchestras and organizations including the National Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Chamber Music America, Fromm Music Foundation, Naumburg Foundation, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, among many others.

Schwantner’s compositional career has been marked by numerous distinctions and awards. His early accolades include three BMI Student Composer Awards, the Bearns Prize, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and many other awards, grants and fellowships. His orchestral composition Aftertones of Infinity was awarded the 1979 Pulitzer Prize in Music. In 1985 his life and music were the focus of a television documentary entitled "Soundings", produced by WGBH in Boston for national broadcast. That same year his work, Magabunda (Witchnomad) “Four Poems of Agueda Pizarro", recorded on Nonesuch Records by the St. Louis Symphony, was nominated for a 1985 Grammy Award in the category “Best New Classical Composition,” and his A Sudden Rainbow, also recorded on Nonesuch by the St. Louis Symphony, received a 1987 Grammy nomination for “Best Classical Composition.” Schwantner is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Recent major works include Concerto No. 2 for Percussion Section, Timpani and Orchestra, which premiered with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Hans Graf as the headline event at the Percussive Arts Society's 50th annual convention, Dream Drapery "Thoreau Songs", premiered in 2012 by contralto Karen Clark and the Galax Quartet, and Chapel Music, five diverse songs for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by Northwestern University for the 50th Anniversary of Alice Millar Chapel, and premiered at the university in 2013, under the direction of Stephen Alltop. Schwantner's Luminosity, commissioned by the CBDNA (College Band Director's National Association) with support by members of a consortia organized by Dr. Nikk Pilato, Emory University, premiered in 2015 with Pilato leading the Emory University Wind Ensemble.

The music of Joseph Schwantner is published by Schott Helicon Music Corporation.



geboren am 22. März in Chicago
erste Kompositionen während des Privatunterrichts in klassischer Gitarre
Abschluss des Studiums bei Bernard Dieter am Chicago Conservatory College (Bachelor of Music)
Abschluss des Studiums bei Alan Stout und Anthony Donato an der Northwestern University (Master of Music)

Erster BMI Student Composer Award
Zweiter BMI Student Composer Award
Bearns Prize von der Columbia University
Doktorwürde im Fach Musik von der Northwestern University

Dritter BMI Student Composer Award
Charles Ives Stipendium von der American Academy of Arts and Letters
Lehrtätigkeit an der Eastman School of Music
Composer Fellowship des National Endowment for the Arts
Zweites Composer Fellowship des National Endowment for the Arts
Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship und Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation Stipendium

Composer in Residence an der Wolf Trap Farm for the Performing Arts in Virginia
Pulitzer Preis für die Komposition "Aftertones of Infinity"

komponiert "Sparrows" unter Erweiterung seiner Ästhetik

Dritter Composers Fellowship Grant des National Endowment for the Arts
Kennedy Center Friedheim Award für "Music of Amber"
erhält das Consortium Commissioning Stipendium vom National Endowment for the Arts

Grammynominierung für "Magabunda (Witchnomad) Four Poems of Agueda Pizarro" in der Kategorie "Best New Classical Composition"
Composer in Residence beim Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
TV-Dokumentation "Joseph Schwantner and His Music"

Fairchild Award (University of Rochester) und Alfred I. DuPont Award für herausragende Komponisten und Dirigenten

Consortium Commissioning Stipendium des National Endowment for the Arts
Professur für Komposition an der Juilliard School

Master in Residence am Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Karel Husa Gastprofessur für Komposition am Ithaca College School of Music

Zweite Grammynominierung in der Kategorie "Best New Classical Composition" für "A Sudden Rainbow"
weiteres Consortium Commissioning Stipendium vom National Endowment for the Arts
Composer in Residence beim Bowdoin Summer Music Festival
Composer in Residence beim Cabrillo Music Festival
Uraufführung "Percussion Concerto" im Auftrag der New York Philharmonic zur 150. Jubiläumssaison – das Werk wird zu einem der meist gespielten zeitgenössischen Werke in den Vereinigten Staaten.

Alfred I. DuPont Award für herausragende Komponisten und Dirigenten
Lehrtätigkeit an der Yale University
Mueller Fellow Residency am Franklin & Marshall College
Ehrendoktorwürde des Baldwin Wallace College
Gastdozent an der University of Georgia für Humanities and Arts
Maurice Abravanel Gastprofessur für herausragende Komponisten an der University of Utah
Uraufführung von "New Morning for the World 'Daybreak of Freedom'" für Erzähler und Kammerorchester mit Texten von Martin Luther King. Jr.
Gastprofessor für Komposition an der Fakultät für Musik der University of Toronto
Uraufführung von "Morning’s Embrace" mit dem National Symphony Orchestra im Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Uraufführung von "Rhiannon’s Blackbirds" für das Kammerensemble Eighth Blackbird mit anschließender Tournee
Komposition des Flötenquartetts "Silver Halo" anlässlich des 25-jährigen Jubiläums des Ensembles Flute Force
Uraufführung von "Silver Halo" in der Weill Recital Hall

Uraufführung von "Chasing Light…" im Rahmen des zweiten Ford Made in America Zyklus mit Aufführungen in allen 50 US-Bundesstaaten.
Uraufführung von "The Poet's Hour"; komponiert zu Ehren von Gerald Schwarz
Uraufführung des "Concerto No. 2 for Percussion Section, Timpani and Orchestra" für Schlagzeugensemble, Pauken und Orchester
Die Aufnahme des "Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra" von der Nashville Symphony unter der Leitung von Giancarlo Guerrero gewinnt den Grammy Award in der Kategorie "Best Classical Instrumental Solo"

Uraufführung von "Dream Drapery 'Thoreau Songs" mit dem Galax Quartet und Kontralto Karen Clark

Uraufführung von "Taking Charge" für Flöte, Piano und Percussion an der Bienen School of Music (Northwestern University)
"Chapel Music" für Chor und Orchester wird an der Northwestern University unter der Leitung von Stephen Alltop zu Ehren des 50. Jubiläums der Alice Millar Chapel uraufgeführt.
Uraufführung von "Luminosity" für Bläserensemble mit dem Emory University Wind Ensemble unter der Leitung von Nikk Pilato