A graduate of Columbia University, He was Beckwith Professor Emeritus of music at Bowdoin College joining the faculty in 1964. In 2006, the Library of Congress acquired his papers to make them part of their permanent collection.
He has held visiting residencies and fellowships at the University of California (Santa Barbara and San Diego), Ohio State University, Harvard University, Tufts University, Cambridge and Oxford Universities (UK), and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center (Bellagio, Italy).
Performances of his music include the Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Houston Symphonies, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Kreutzer and Borromeo Quartets, Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space and the MOMA Summer Garden (NYC); Tanglewood, the Bath Festival (UK); Leningrad Spring (Russia), Gaudeamus Music Week (Netherlands), and the European Youth Orchestra Festival (Denmark).
Recordings of his music can be heard on the New World, CRI, Capstone, Innova, Albany and GM labels. A CD recording of his six chamber concertos has recently been released by BMOP-SOUND. In 2006 Schwartz's 70th birthday was celebrated with concerts, lectures and residencies at the University of Minnesota, the Library of Congress (Washington), Oxford, and the Royal Academy of Music (London).
In addition to his composing, Schwartz has also written a number of books, critical essays and reviews. His books include Electronic Music: A Listener's Guide, Music Since 1945 co-authored with Daniel Godfrey, and the anthology, Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music co-edited with Barney Childs.