March 15, 2010 William Schuman's Seventh Symphony Subject of Lecture on March 25

Press Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302
Public Contact: Denise Gallo (202) 707-6937

The Music Division of the Library of Congress and the American Musicological Society, in joint partnership, will present another in a series of lectures highlighting musicological research conducted in the division’s collections.

Steven Swayne of Dartmouth College will present a talk titled “William Schuman’s Puzzling Seventh Symphony” at noon on Thursday, March 25, in the Coolidge Auditorium, ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St., S.E. Washington, D.C.

The lecture is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.

Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 1954, the symphony premiered in the fall of 1960, nearly five years after the 75th anniversary of the BSO. Schuman’s correspondence unexpectedly reveals that much of the Seventh Symphony was written not for Boston, but for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Only when the Philadelphia commission collapsed did Schuman repurpose the already-composed music for Boston. Still more intriguing is the presence of a 12-tone row as the opening subject of the first movement. While others have noted the presence of 12-tone harmonies in Schuman’s music, to Swayne’s knowledge no one has ever remarked on this unusual appearance of a 12-tone melody. The manuscript of the Seventh Symphony in the Koussevitzky Collection of the Library of Congress solves the puzzle about the Philadelphia-Boston connection.

Swayne teaches courses in music from 1700 to the present day, opera, American musical theater, Russian music and American music at Dartmouth College. He has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His articles have appeared in The Sondheim Review, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, American Music, Studies in Musical Theatre, the Indiana Theory Review and The Musical Quarterly. He has contributed to commentaries on Sondheim developed by the John F. Kennedy Center and the Chicago Lyric Opera. His first book, “How Sondheim Found His Sound,” was published in 2005. He is an accomplished concert pianist, with four nationally distributed recordings currently in release and a performance with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas to his credit. In addition to his work at Dartmouth, he has taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and at the University of California at Berkeley.

Previous lecturers in the series have included Annegret Fausher discussing 19th- and 20th-century French music, Judith Tick speaking on Ruth Crawford Seeger, Jeffrey Magee presenting on Irving Berlin, and Walter Frisch discussing Arnold Schoenberg. Programs are available as Library webcasts at

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at

The institution’s unparalleled music holdings include manuscripts of European masters such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms and those of American masters such as Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein and Charles Mingus. The Alan Lomax collection of field recordings of American roots music, Woody Guthrie’s original recordings and manuscripts, and one-of-a-kind recordings of bluesman Robert Johnson from the 1930s are also among the Library’s musical treasures. More information can be found at


PR 10-053
ISSN 0731-3527