Howard Hanson details the career and works of a composer called by several critics "the most important figure in American music in the second quarter of the 20th century." Hanson's compositions elicited the broadest possible range of critical reaction. While early works from the 1920s were viewed as dissonant, avant-garde experimentations, within a decade his compositions in a similar style were viewed as solid, conservative works. Within this range, it was generally agreed that Hanson represented the best in solid compositional and orchestrational technique, and audiences greeted his new compositions with unquestioned approval throughout his 60-plus year career. As an important proponent of American music during his forty year tenure as Director of the Eastman School of Music, he conducted premieres of literally thousands of works by American composers and always encouraged young American composers.