Alan Mauritz Swanson was born in Chicago and raised in Indiana. He has degrees from Indiana University and the University of Chicago, and did further studies at the University of Stockholm. As an academic, much of his research deals with theatre and music, mostly of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Though he had written music in his youth, working in many places and countries so changed his perspective on what he was doing as a composer that a move to The Netherlands in the early 1990s provided the push to destroy most of what he had previously written. “I could see it was all really just practice,” he says. This did not mean he “started over” in any literal sense but, rather, that he now felt, as he puts it, “freer to move in a new direction while giving the past a useful place in the present.”
He has written in most of the smaller genres, songs, piano partitas and other pieces for solo instruments, an organ set, choral music, piano trios, and quartets. There is a concerto for viola and strings, but no symphonic music and no opera. “I just don’t have an opera in me,” he maintains, “and, besides, I am not at all sure what a modern opera should look and sound like these days.”
Interview, February 15, 2016, by Konstantin Koukias