John R. Sweney (1837-1899) was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and exhibited musical abilities at an early age. At nineteen he was studying with a German music teacher, leading a choir and glee club, and performing at children’s entertainments. By twenty-two he was teaching at a school in Dover, Delaware. Soon thereafter, he was put in charge of the band of the Third Delaware Regiment of the Union Army for the duration of the Civil War. After the war, he became Professor of Music at the Pennsylvania Military Academy, and director of Sweney’s Cornet Band. He eventually earned Bachelor and Doctor of Music degrees at the Academy.
Sweney began composing church music in 1871 and became well-known as a leader of large congregati… Go to person page >