Schwann, William (Joseph)

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Schwann, William (Joseph)

Schwann, William (Joseph), pioneering American discographer; b. Salem, III., May 13, 1913; d. Burlington, Vt., June 7, 1998. He began his career as an organist and choir director in Louisville (Ky.) churches (1930–35). He studied at the Univ. of Louisville (B.A., 1935), Boston Univ. (1935–37), and Harvard Univ. (1937–39), where his teachers included E.B. Hill, Hugo Leichtentritt, A.T. Merritt, Walter Piston, and G. Wallace Woodworth. He also received private organ instruction from E. Power Biggs. He was a music critic for the Boston Herald (1937–41), and also ran his own record shop in Cambridge (1939–53). In 1949 he launched his Schwann Record Catalog, the first monthly compilation of available recordings in the world. An invaluable source, it expanded over the years to include not only long-playing records but also tapes and compact discs; special compilations were also issued from time to time. In 1976 his firm, W. Schwann, Inc., was acquired by ABC Publishing Co. Among Schwann’s numerous accolades are honorary D.Mus. degrees from the Univ. of Louisville (1969) and the New England Cons. of Music in Boston (1982).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire