|Born||November 22, 1925|
|Died||June 21, 2015 89)(aged|
|Genres||Jazz, classical, third stream|
|Occupation(s)||President of the New England Conservatory|
|Instruments||French horn, flute|
|Associated acts||Modern Jazz Society, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra|
Gunther Alexander Schuller (November 22, 1925 –June 21, 2015) was an American composer, conductor, horn player, author, historian educator, publisher, and jazz musician.
Schuller was born in Queens, New York City,the son of German parents Elsie (Bernartz) and Arthur E. Schuller, a violinist with the New York Philharmonic. He studied at the Saint Thomas Choir School and became an accomplished French horn player and flute player. At age 15, he was already playing horn professionally with the American Ballet Theatre (1943) followed by an appointment as principal hornist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (1943–45), and then the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York, where he stayed until 1959. During his youth, he attended the Precollege Division at the Manhattan School of Music, later going on to teach at the school. But, already a high school dropout because he wanted to play professionally, Schuller never obtained a degree from any institution. He began his career in jazz by recording as a horn player with Miles Davis (1949–50).
In 1955, Schuller and jazz pianist John Lewis founded the Modern Jazz Society,which gave its first concert at Town Hall, New York, the same year and later became known as the Jazz and Classical Music Society. While lecturing at Brandeis University in 1957, he coined the term "Third Stream" to describe music that combines classical and jazz techniques. He became an enthusiastic advocate of this style and wrote many works according to its principles, among them Transformation (1957, for jazz ensemble), Concertino (1959, for jazz quartet and orchestra), Abstraction (1959, for nine instruments), and Variants on a Theme of Thelonious Monk (1960, for 13 instruments) utilizing Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman. In 1966, he composed the opera The Visitation. He also orchestrated Scott Joplin's only known surviving opera Treemonisha for the Houston Grand Opera's premiere production of this work in 1975.
In 1959, Schuller largely gave up performance to devote himself to composition, teaching and writing. He conducted internationally and studied and recorded jazz with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie and John Lewis among many others.Schuller wrote over 190 original compositions in many musical genres.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Schuller was president of New England Conservatory, where he founded The New England Ragtime Ensemble. During this period, he also held a variety of positions at the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home in Tanglewood, serving as director of new music activities from 1965 to 1969 and as artistic director of the Tanglewood Music Center from 1970 to 1984 and creating the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music.
In the 1970s and 1980s Schuller founded the publishers Margun Music and Gun-Mar and the record label GM Recordings.Margun Music and Gun-Mar were sold to Music Sales Group in 1999.
Schuller recorded the LP Country Fiddle Band with the Conservatory's country fiddle band, released by Columbia Records in 1976. Reviewing in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau wrote: "The melodies are fetchingly tried-and-true, the (unintentional?) stateliness of the rhythms appropriately nineteenth-century, and the instrumental overkill (twenty-four instruments massed on 'Flop-Eared Mule') both gorgeous and hilarious. A grand novelty."
Schuller was editor-in-chief of Jazz Masterworks Editions, and co-director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestrain Washington, D.C. Another effort of preservation was his editing and posthumous premiering at Lincoln Center in 1989 of Charles Mingus's immense final work, Epitaph , subsequently released on Columbia/Sony Records. He was the author of two major books on the history of jazz, Early Jazz (1968) and The Swing Era (1991).
His students included Irwin Swack, See: List of music students by teacher: R to S#Gunther Schuller .Ralph Patt, John Ferritto, Eric Alexander Hewitt, Mohammed Fairouz, Oliver Knussen, Nancy Zeltsman, Riccardo Dalli Cardillo and hundreds of others.
From 1993 until his death, Schuller served as Artistic Director for the Northwest Bach Festival in Spokane, Washington state. Each year the festival showcased works by J.S. Bach and other composers in venues around Spokane. At the 2010 festival, Schuller conducted the Mass in B minor at St. John's Cathedral, sung by the Bach Festival Chorus, composed of professional singers in Eastern Washington, and the BachFestival, composed of members of the Spokane Symphony and others. Other notable performances Schuller conducted at the festival include the St Matthew Passion in 2008 and Handel's Messiah in 2005.
Schuller's association with Spokane began with guest conducting the Spokane Symphony for one week in 1982.He then served as Music Director from 1984–1985 and later regularly appeared as a guest conductor. Schuller also served as Artistic Director to the nearby Festival at Sandpoint.
His modernist orchestral work Where the Word Ends, organized in four movements corresponding to those of a symphony, premiered at the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2009.
In 2011 Schuller published the first volume of a two-volume autobiography, Gunther Schuller: A Life in Pursuit of Music and Beauty.
In 2012, Schuller premiered a new arrangement, the Treemonisha suite from Joplin's opera. It was performed as part of The Rest is Noise season at London's South Bank in 2013.
Schuller died on June 21, 2015 in Boston, from complications from leukemia. He married Marjorie Black, a singer and pianist, in 1948. Their marriage produced two sons, George and Edwin, and lasted until her death in 1992.His sons survive him, as does his brother Edgar.
With Gigi Gryce
With John Lewis
With Mitch Miller
With Frank Sinatra
Charles Mingus Jr. was an American jazz double bassist, pianist, composer and bandleader. A major proponent of collective improvisation, he is considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history, with a career spanning three decades and collaborations with other jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dannie Richmond, and Herbie Hancock.
Ragtime – also spelled rag-time or rag time – is a musical style that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1919. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated or "ragged" rhythm.
Eric Allan Dolphy Jr. was an American jazz alto saxophonist, bass clarinetist and flautist. On a few occasions, he also played the clarinet and piccolo. Dolphy was one of several multi-instrumentalists to gain prominence around the time that he was active. His use of the bass clarinet helped to establish the instrument within jazz. Dolphy extended the vocabulary and boundaries of the alto saxophone, and was among the earliest significant jazz flute soloists.
John Aaron Lewis was an American jazz pianist, composer and arranger, best known as the founder and musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet.
Tanglewood is a music venue in the towns of Lenox and Stockbridge in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. It has been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937. Tanglewood is also home to three music schools: the Tanglewood Music Center, Days in the Arts and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Besides classical music, Tanglewood hosts the Festival of Contemporary Music, jazz and popular artists, concerts, and frequent appearances by James Taylor, John Williams, and the Boston Pops.
Epitaph is a composition by jazz musician Charles Mingus. It is 4,235 measures long, takes more than two hours to perform, and was only completely discovered during the cataloguing process after his death. With the help of a grant from the Ford Foundation, the score and instrumental parts were copied, and the work itself was premiered by a 30-piece orchestra, conducted by Gunther Schuller and produced by Mingus's widow, Sue, at Alice Tully Hall on June 3, 1989, 10 years after his death, and issued as a live album. It was performed again at several concerts in 2007.
Attilio Joseph "Teo" Macero was an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and record producer. He was a producer at Columbia Records for twenty years. Macero produced Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, and Dave Brubeck's Time Out, which are two of the best-selling and most influential jazz albums of all time. Although the extent of his role has been disputed, he also has been associated with the production of Davis' 1959 album Kind of Blue, jazz's best-selling record.
David Werner Amram III is an American composer, arranger, and conductor of orchestral, chamber, and choral works, many with jazz flavorings. He plays piano, French horn, Spanish guitar, and pennywhistle, and sings. Amram has also composed scores for films, and has led quartets, quintets and larger ensembles who perform and record under his name.
Treemonisha (1911) is an opera by American ragtime composer Scott Joplin. Though it encompasses a wide range of musical styles other than ragtime, and Joplin did not refer to it as such, it is sometimes referred to as a "ragtime opera". The music of Treemonisha includes an overture and prelude, along with various recitatives, choruses, small ensemble pieces, a ballet, and a few arias.
Edwin Barker is an American double bass player who graduated from the New England Conservatory. He is Principal Double Bass with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Associate Professor of Music at Boston University College of Fine Arts.
The Tanglewood Music Center is an annual summer music academy in Lenox, Massachusetts, United States, in which emerging professional musicians participate in performances, master classes and workshops. The Center operates as a part of the Tanglewood Music Festival, an outdoor concert series and the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO).
Irwin Swack was an American composer of contemporary classical music.
Third stream is a synthesis of jazz and classical music. The term was coined in 1957 by composer Gunther Schuller in a lecture at Brandeis University. Improvisation is generally seen as a vital component of third stream.
Rush Hour is an album by the American jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano featuring an orchestra arranged and conducted by Gunther Schuller recorded in 1994 and released on the Blue Note label.
The New England Ragtime Ensemble was a Boston chamber orchestra dedicated to the music of Scott Joplin and other ragtime composers.
While the French horn is primarily used in classical music pieces, in the mid-20th century it broke into the jazz world. While the instrument remains relatively rare, the role of the French horn in jazz has developed from its beginnings in the 1940s through to the 2010s. Note that the expression "horns" in jazz is often used colloquially to refer to all wind instruments used in jazz
All Set, for jazz ensemble, is a 1957 composition for small jazz band by the American composer Milton Babbitt.
The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) is the national jazz orchestra of the United States. It is based at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., where it is the orchestra-in-residence. The SJMO was founded in 1990 with the dual mission of performing and preserving American jazz masterworks and raising public awareness and understanding of the genre.
Of Reminiscences and Reflections is an orchestral composition by the American composer Gunther Schuller. It was composed on a commission from the Louisville Orchestra as an elegy to Schuller's wife Marjorie, who died in November 1992. The composition was written over a 17-day period in September 1993 and has a duration of roughly 20 minutes. The piece was awarded the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Black conductors are musicians of African, Caribbean, African-American ancestry and other members of the African diaspora who are musical ensemble leaders who direct classical music performances, such as an orchestral or choral concerts, or jazz ensemble big band concerts by way of visible gestures with the hands, arms, face and head. Conductors of African descent are rare, as the vast majority are male and Caucasian.
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