Jan Swafford

Swafford photo Carolee Asia

Jan Swafford

composer & writer

Jan Swafford is a composer and writer. His music has been played around the country and abroad by ensembles including the St. Louis, Indianapolis, Vermont, Chattanooga and Dutch Radio symphonies; Boston’s new-music groups Musica Viva, Collage and Dinosaur Annex; and chamber ensembles including the Peabody Trio, the Chamber Orchestra of Tennessee, and the Scott Chamber Players of Indianapolis. His work is forthrightly expressive, individual in voice and steadily concerned with lucidity of texture and form. Beneath the surface there are contributions from world music, especially Indian and Balinese, and from jazz and blues. The titles of his works – including Landscape with Traveler, From the Shadow of the Mountain, and The Silence at Yuma Point – reveal a steady inspiration from nature. Awards as a composer include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and two Massachusetts Artists Council Fellowships.

Also a well-known writer on music, Swafford is author of leading biographies of Ives, Brahms and Beethoven. His journalism has appeared often in Slate, and for those writings he won a Deems Taylor award for music journalism. He is a long-time program writer and preconcert lecturer for the Boston Symphony and has written notes and essays for the orchestras of Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto, as well as for Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera. All his books have been Critics’ Choices in The New York Times; the Ives was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle prize in biography. Currently he is working on a biography of Mozart. Learn more at www.janswafford.com