This is Steve Swayne's best book by far, and it is an absolute delight to read. If you do buy it, get the Kindle version. The hardcover book is thick and bulky to carry around. The Kindle version will not only let you consult the footnotes faster, but also you'll be able to lookup the meaning of words you don't know faster. Swayne uses many words not found in everyday conversation, such as niggardly, encomia, dyspeptic, summa, extant, obdurate, assiduously, ostinato, peripatetic, lithe, coeval, iconoclast, rawboned, distended, effusive, acclamation, passacaglia, lugubrious, Cantata, peroration, admixture, requiescat, quatrain, and magnanimous. If you don't know the meaning of all of these words, having the Kindle will help.
The book answers key questions about William Schuman's life:
1. Who is William Schuman and what was his contribution to American music in the 20th century?
2. Why is William Schuman so important to the field of American music?
3. Who did William Schuman marry and why? Why did William Schuman fall in love with Frankie?
4. How did William Schuman become President of Julliard?
5. What was William Schuman's involvement with the Lincoln Center?
6. Where did William Schuman go to school and did he grow up rich or poor?
7. How much money did William Schuman make?
8. What kind of family did Frankie, Schuman's wife, come from?
9. What was William Schuman's relationship with Copland and Bernstein?
10. What did Copland and Bernstein think of William Schuman?
11. Where was William Schuman born?
12. How did William Schuman get his commissions to write music?
13. How many hours did William Schuman spend writing music?
14. Who did William Schuman clash with and why?
Swayne does a good job of making sure the reader's questions about Schuman's life are answered and much more. Dr. Steve Swayne tells the story of Schuman's life in an interesting and engaging way.
I have read many biographies and this is by far one of the better written biographies out there. The level of detail, combined with the level of research, is impressive. Steve Swayne does a great job entertaining us with Schuman's life while educating us about all the major issues Schuman had to deal with in his life. I'm very impressed by Swayne's writing style. Usually an autobiography is self serving in some respects, but because this wasn't an autobiography, but written from a diligent and thoughtful researcher, the reader gets an objective account of Schuman's life. The book was not written to become the NYT's runaway bestseller -- if there are titillating stories, it's because those stories were true. If there is absence of drama, it's because the story is told objectively, not sensationally.
The book offers a lot in the way of giving us an insider's account of how Schuman rose to prominence. It will be the "go to" reference book on Schuman for decades to come.
Schuman's early years were formative in how he became so great. Who his early friends were in the Tin Pan Alley Years, the experiences he had growing up that caused him to go into music, and his Carnegie Hall experiences all played a role in him becoming who he is remembered for.