Jan Swafford is a composer and writer. His musical works range from orchestral and chamber to film and theater music, including four pieces for orchestra, Midsummer Variations for piano quintet, They That Mourn for piano trio, They Who Hunger for piano quartet, and From the Shadow of the Mountain for string orchestra. His music has been played around the country and abroad by ensembles including the symphonies of Indianapolis, St. Louis, Harrisburg, Springfield, Jacksonville, Chattanooga, and the Dutch Radio. Among his honors are an NEA Composers Grant and two Massachusetts Artists Council Fellowships.
Swafford has degrees in music from Harvard and Yale; his composition teachers included Jacob Druckman, Earl Kim, and, at Tanglewood, Betsy Jolas. In 1988‑9 he was a Mellon Faculty Fellow at Harvard.
As a musical journalist and scholar, Mr. Swafford has written for Slate, Guardian International, Gramophone, Symphony, and 19th Century Music. He has also written program notes for the Chicago, Cleveland, and San Francisco Symphonies, for Chamber Music at Lincoln Center, and for Carnegie Hall programs. He is a regular preconcert lecturer and program note writer for the Boston Symphony. His books include the biographies Charles Ives: A Life with Music (nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award, winner of the PEN/Winship prize), and Johannes Brahms: A Biography. His most recent book is Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph. All his biographies have been Critics’ Choices in the Times.