Born in Georgia, Howard Swanson's family moved to Cleveland when he was nine, and Swanson studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music. After studying with Nadia Boulanger in 1938, Swanson spent two intensive periods studying and traveling in New York. He finally settled in New York City in 1966.
Thanks to Marian Anderson's 1949 performance of Howard Swanson's song "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Swanson's music began to gain national attention. He won several awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Academy of Arts and Letters grant.
Swanson's neo-classical compositional method is appealing to a wide range of listeners, with graceful melodies and a touch of jazz and idioms of black American folk music.
--Christie Finn Source: Eileen Southern's article in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians