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Gunther Schuller

American composer, conductor and writer Gunther Schuller was born on 22 November 1925 in New York City to German Parents. His father was a violinist in the New York Philharmonic. Whilst at school, he learnt to play the French horn and the flute, and was playing horn professionally at fifteen.

Continuing to play for a living, with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and then the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, he also began recording jazz as a horn player with Miles Davis between 1949 and 1950.

He coined the term 'third stream' to describe music combining jazz and classical techniques, and wrote much music according to these principles.

By 1959, he was concentrating on composition, but also conducting, teaching, writing and continuing to record jazz.

In the 1960s and 70s he was president of the New England Conservatory. There he founded the New England Ragtime Ensemble. He also worked in various roles at Tanglewood, mostly concerning contemporary music.

He wrote more than a hundred and ninety compositions in various genres, and wrote two books about the history of early jazz and a two volume autobiography.

From 1993 he was artistic director of the Northwest Bach Festival in Spokane, conducting Bach choral works.

Gunther Schuller died of complications from leukemia in Boston on 21 June 2015, aged eighty-nine.

 

A selection of M&V articles about Gunther Schuller

CD Spotlight. Precision and Nuance - Music by American composers, heard by Ron Bierman. 'Recommended for the mildly adventurous.'

CD Spotlight. A Surefire Winner - A recital by Lin Jiang and Benjamin Martin, recommended by Howard Smith. '... superbly performed.'

CD Spotlight. Perceptive Musicianship - Oboe concertos played by Andrea Gullickson [listen], enjoyed by Howard Smith. '... highly recommended ...'

CD Spotlight - Obvious dedication. '... one work - the Gunther Schuller Symphony - receives a truly first-class performance ...' American orchestral music, reviewed by David Wilkins

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