Gunther Schuller has developed a musical career that ranges from composing and conducting to his extensive work as an educator, administrator, music publisher, record producer, and author. At the age of seventeen, Mr. Schuller was principal French hornist with the Cincinnati Symphony; two years later he was appointed to a similar position with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In 1959 he gave up performing to devote himself primarily to composition. He has fulfilled commissions from major orchestras throughout the world and, since 1980, has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among other awards, he has received two Guggenheim fellowships and numerous honorary degrees. In June 1991 he was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation and received one of the coveted MacArthur “Genius” Awards. In 1993, Down Beat Magazine honored Mr. Schuller with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to jazz. A composition written for the Louisville Symphony, Of Reminiscences and Reflections, won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Music.
In 1989 Mr. Schuller edited Charles Mingus’ immense final work Epitaph, and premiered it at New York’s Lincoln Center that year. The performance was subsequently released on Columbia/Sony Records.
As a conductor, Mr. Schuller travels throughout the world, leading major ensembles in widely varied repertory. As an educator, he has taught at the Manhattan School of Music and at Yale University, and served as head of the composition department at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood from 1963 until 1984. During the last fourteen of those years he was the Center’s Artistic Director. In 1967, Mr. Schuller was appointed President of the New England Conservatory of Music in which he served until 1977. During his tenure at the Conservatory he helped reintroduce the music of Scott Joplin to the American public, in part through his development of the New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble, which won a 1973 Grammy Award for its performance of Joplin’s The Red Back Book. Mr. Schuller has written dozens of essays and five books, including the encyclopedic study, The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz-1930-1945. His latest book, The Compleat Conductor, was released in August 1997 through Oxford University Press.
Michael Colgrass / Gunther Schuller: Déjà vu (mode 125)