Elliott Schwartz (January 19, 1936, in New York City - December 7, 2016 in Maine) studied composition with Otto Luening and Jack Beeson at Columbia University (AB 1957, MA '58, Ed.D '62). He also worked privately with Paul Creston. He was the Robert K. Beckwith Professor of Music at Bowdoin College, where he taught since 1964, including twelve years as department chair; from 1988 to 1992 he also held a half-time Professorship of Composition at The Ohio State University School of Music.
Visiting appointments included Trinity College of Music, London (1967), the University of California/Santa Barbara (College of Creative Studies, 1970, '73, '74), the University of California/San Diego (Center for Music Experiment, 1978-79), and Distinguished University Visiting Professorship at The Ohio State University (1985-86). He spent the fall 1993 and spring 1999 terms at Cambridge University (UK) as holder of a visiting Fellowship at Robinson College.
He has served as President of the College Music Society, National Chair of the American Society of University Composers (now renamed the Society of Composers, Inc.), Vice-President of the American Music Center, President of the Maine Composers Forum, and music panelist for the Maine Arts Council. He was also a board member of the American Composers Alliance.
He kept up with the latest trends. In addition to his works for standard instruments, according to the obituary in the Portland Press Herald, “He composed one piece based on actual Facebook posts, which included musicians reading the posts, while another piece featured TVs and radios on stage with the performers. His 1966 piece “Elevator Music” was performed by 12 small groups on various floors of a building, while the audience rode an elevator and heard parts of the piece on each floor.”
Elliott Schwartz is co-editor of the anthology Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, co-author of Music Since 1945, and the author of Electronic Music: A Listener's Guide; The Symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Music: Ways of Listening. He has also written essays and reviews for Perspectives of New Music, The Musical Quarterly, Musical America, Music and Musicians (England), Nordic Sounds (Denmark) and other publications.
His compositions are published by G.Schirmer-AMP, MMB-Norruth, Theodore Presser, Carl Fischer and ACA. A number of his works are on Folkways, Advance, Orion, Arista and Opus One long-play records. There are also compact disc recordings of his music on the New World, CRI, Innova, Vienna Modern Masters, O.O. Discs, Capstone, North-South Consonance (Albany), Metier and GM labels. Schwartz was a member of BMI.
His wife, Dorothy Schwartz, was an artist, professor and past director of the Maine Humanities Council who was considered a driving force in Maine’s cultural scene for some 20 years. She died in 2014 at the age of 75.
-- Links here and below refer to my Interviews elsewhere on my website. BD
© 1987 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on April 5, 1987. Portions were broadcast on WNIB the following week, and again in 1991 and 1996. This transcription was made in 2017, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.