Elliott Schwartz

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Elliott Schwartz
composer

Elliott Schwartz is a native New Yorker who has spent almost half a century in New England. He is retired from the faculty of Bowdoin College, where he served for more than forty years. His many extended residencies and/or visiting professorships include Ohio State University, the University of California (San Diego and Santa Barbara), Harvard University, University of Oxford, and University of Cambridge, and he has appeared as guest composer in such cities as London, Paris, Strasbourg, Weimar, Mannheim, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Tokyo, and Reykjavík.

Performances of his music include the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; the Cassatt, Borromeo, Utrecht, Blair, and Kreutzer String Quartets; Lontano contemporary music ensemble (London, England); and distinguished new-music soloists Bertram Turetzky, Stuart Dempster, Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Jacob Glick, Allen Blustine, Phillip Rehfeldt, Libby Van Cleve, and Blair McMillen. Honors and awards for his compositions include the Gaudeamus Foundation (The Netherlands), the Rockefeller Foundation (two Bellagio residencies), and the National Endowment for the Arts. During 2006, Schwartz's 70th birthday was celebrated with concerts and guest lectures at the University of Oxford, the Royal Academy of Music in London, the University of Minnesota, Butler University, the American Composers Alliance Festival in New York, and the Library of Congress.

In addition to composing, Schwartz has also written or edited a number of books on musical subjects. These include Music: Ways of Listening, The Symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Electronic Music: A Listener’s Guide, Music Since 1945 (co-author with Daniel Godfrey), and Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music (co-editor with Barney Childs). Over the course of his career, he served as president of the College Music Society, president of the Society of Composers, Inc., vice-president of the American Music Center, and board member of the American Composers Alliance.

Schwartz's style is marked by a fondness for unsynchronized simultaneous layers of activity (in the spirit of Charles Ives), highly dramatic—even theatrical—gestures, and brilliant instrumental colors. His juxtaposition of tonal passages and angular, modernist ones, together with his penchant for quoting fragments of pre-existing music, has prompted one critic (Tim Page, The New York Times) to cite his work as "beyond eclecticism." In the words of another (David Cleary, New Music Connoisseur), "what the 20th century needs most is an analogue to Brahms—someone who is able to gather up the widely scattered tendrils of this highly fractured 100 years and create a personal style from them…. Elliott Schwartz is making a most persuasive bid to be that Brahms."

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Performances

Concertos for Strings and Orchestras
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | November 14, 2008
Re-Inventions: Glorious and subversive music for keyboards
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | November 2, 2007
Boston ConNECtion
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | January 22, 2005

News and Press

[Press Release] BMOP/sound Releases Elliott Schwartz: Chamber Concertos I-VI
BMOP/sound, the nation's foremost label launched by an orchestra and devoted exclusively to new music recordings, adds to its venerable catalog the October 2009 release of Elliott Schwartz: Chamber Concertos I-VI. Known for his wildly eclectic music, Schwartz remains committed to composing concert music which reflects his fascination with brilliant instrumental color, stylistic collage, and neo-Baroque textural models.
Full release
[Concert Review] New looks at old images
Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project present, more often than not, anthologized programming: one-night overviews of a single tradition, composer, or genre. Such concerts can veer toward stylistic diffusion, but Friday's collection of string-instrument concertos presented the opposite danger - a surfeit of similarity.
The Boston Globe Full review
[Concert Review] Ueno's Memorable Talus, Boykan's Engaging Concerto, Erickson's Eclectic Fantasty, and Schwartz's Chamber Concerto
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project performed new works in Jordan Hall on Friday evening by Martin Boykan, Robert Erickson, Elliott Schwartz, and Ken Ueno. The concert closed with Shoenberg’s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, a very liberal arrangement of a Handel Concerto.
The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review
[Concert Review] Thoroughly modern opening for new Bowdoin recital hall
I wish that all the people who claim to hate "modern" music had been able to attend Saturday's concert of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project at Bowdoin College's new Studzinsky Recital Hall. Works composed in the 21st century range from Renaissance harmonies through Romantic lyricism to the craggiest of dissonance. The writing varied in quality, but the program transfixed the large audience and held its interest throughout, appealing to the intellect and the emotions.
Portland Press Herald Full review
[Concert Review] A primer on reinventing the concerto
"Re-Inventions," the opening concert of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project's 11th season, promised "glorious and subversive music for keyboards." While none of the four pieces heard Friday night fully lived up to either adjective, they did present individual and strikingly resourceful ideas on how the concerto, a timeworn musical form, could be reimagined for the present.
The Boston Globe Full review