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August 4, 2010

William Schuman's centennial a reminder of music we're missing

William Schuman was born 100 years ago, Aug. 4, 1910. I hate to say it, but my guess is that an awful lot of American concert-goers would not know his name, even though he was among this country's most gifted composers of the 20th century.

Although his "New England Triptych" turns up once in a while -- and I always love hearing that vibrant work -- there is so much more from his pen that we're missing in our musical diet. Maybe the pendulum will swing his way again someday.

Meanwhile, here are two fun clips to mark the centennial -- a brief interview with good sound bites; and an appearance on "What's My Line" when Schuman was president of the newly opened Lincoln Center. (Sad how we'll never go back to the days when TV could sustain a program as classy -- and entertaining -- as "What's My Line." I wish I could find reruns again -- here, the Game Show Network stopped airing it, in favor of recent-vintage crap.):

Posted by Tim Smith at 4:38 PM | | Comments (1)


Well, we did hear *some* William Schuman in Washington thanks to Leonard Slatkin. Indeed, his performance of the 8th symphony must rank as a highlight of his NSO tenure.

Slatkin also conducted "Prayer in Time of War."

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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