NEC's Gunther Schuller collection is organized into eleven series:

  1. Correspondence/Memoranda
  2. Faculty Files
  3. Academic Department Files
  4. Administrative Department Files
  5. Ensemble Records
  6. Gift/Bequest Files
  7. Student Organization Records
  8. Special Event Records
  9. Subject Files
  10. External Files
  11. Photographs

Schuller’s Correspondence files contain general correspondence dating primarily from the years 1968-1977. Additional files in this series include exchanges with Eleanor Steber, correspondence with NEC administrators, and memoranda to the NEC Community.

Schuller’s Faculty files, organized alphabetically, contain correspondence between Schuller and numerous NEC faculty members including Frank Battisti, Robert Ceely, Robert Cogan, Lorna Cooke deVaron, John Heiss, Jacob Maxim, Mark Pearson, Daniel Pinkham, Robert Selig, Russell Sherman, Eric Rosenblith, Benjamin Zander etc. One additional faculty correspondence folder contains individual letters from other faculty members, again organized alphabetically. The faculty series also contains Faculty Council records and records concerning discussions between the Faculty Senate and the National Labor Relations Board.

In Schuller’s Academic Department Files, curriculum proposals/reviews can be found for the departments of Chamber Music, Electronic Music, Humanities, Music Literature, the Extension School, and Theory.

The Administrative Department Files focus primarily on the Community Services Department. The Schuller papers recount the establishment and activities of the Community Services Department, under Directors Helen Harrington and Webster Lewis, and faculty member Ran Blake. This department’s mission was to research and implement various music programs throughout the diverse communities of Greater Boston. Other administrative department files include those of Admissions, Building Operations, Dean’s Office, Development, and the Registrar.

Records of Conservatory Ensembles include those of the Brass Quintet, Chorus, Orchestra, and Ragtime Ensemble.  The majority of these records concern the Chorus and Orchestra trip to France and Switzerland in 1974. These files contain correspondence, planning materials, itineraries, concert schedules, programs etc. Records of this tour are also contained in the Ragtime Ensemble file. Particularly noteworthy, however, are the papers relating to a Ragtime Ensemble performance at a White House state dinner during the Gerald Ford administration. Additional folders document the planning of a trip to the Soviet Union by the Ragtime Ensemble as well as recordings made by the Ragtime Ensemble.

The Gift/Bequest Files consist primarily of acknowledgements written by Schuller to donors during the years 1967-1971. Many of these gifts were donations to NEC’s Centennial Capital Campaign. In this series there are also more specialized files concerning gifts given in someone’s memory, gifts given for specific scholarship funds etc. These include gifts made in memory of Mary Fiske Hoffman and J. Harleston Parker as well as contributions to the Tourjee Fund, Chester Williams Fund, and the William A. Valkenier Scholarship Fund. Another file contains one or two acknowledgements respectively for gifts to the Ethan Ayer Scholarship Fund, Virginia Cabot Scholarship Fund, Marion L. Chapin Scholarship Fund, the Lincoln and Therese Filene Scholarship Fund, John E. Lodge Scholarship Fund, Mary C. Morrison Scholarship Fund, John Padavano Scholarship Fund, Laura Porter Scholarship Fund, Edmund H. Sears Memorial Scholarship, Norman B. Tobias Scholarship Fund, Earl Weidner Scholarship Fund, the Westfield Scholarship Fund, and the William L. Whitney Scholarship Fund. The following file also includes gifts, many of which are financially significant, from the Anne and Phillip Allen Trust, the Cora M. Murray Trust, Drs. Abraham and Bluma Horwitz Foundation, the Agnes M. Lindsay Trust, the Mary S. Higgins Estate, the Charles Merrill Trust, the Charles Hayden Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Spaulding-Potter Charitable Trust, and the Rockefeller Foundation. The last Gifts file contains documentation of non-financial donations to the Conservatory such as books, instruments, and furnishings.

The role of African-American students at the Conservatory was an important topic during Schuller’s presidency, as is evident from his statement to and written exchanges with the African-American student organization, Collective Black Artists at NEC (CBANEC). This is also apparent from Schuller’s responses to a controversial New York Times editorial concerning the African-American student population at NEC. Other Student Organization files include those of Sigma Alpha Iota and the Student Democratic Society, as well as one folder containing results of student surveys and student evaluations of NEC.

In terms of Special Events, a milestone in the history of New England Conservatory was the Centennial anniversary of its founding which coincided with the inauguration of Schuller as President in November 1967. Records from this event include: planning materials, invitations, programs, tickets, and Schuller’s inaugural address. One of the highlights of this celebration was a Centennial Symposium, “The Conservatory Redefined.” Records of this symposium include: minutes of the sub-committee, and speeches by Milton Babbitt, William Bergsma, Robert Cogan, Louis I. Kahn, Louis Krasner, and Robert Mann. Other noteworthy events of this period included the performance of Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande from an original manuscript, a fundraising concert featuring Eleanor Steber, the New England Conservatory Peace
Marathon (part of the national student strike of May 1970), the ISCM World Music Days (1976), and the Vietnam Moratorium. Commencement files contain correspondence from prospective honorary degree candidates including: Boris Goldovsky, Erich Leinsdorf, Artur Rubenstein and Rudolf Serkin.

Subject Files of interest include records containing information on Brown Hall, the Harrison Keller String Quartet, the Composer’s String Quartet Contest, The Composer’s Show, the Pelleas and Melisande manuscript, the Voice of Firestone Collection and Firestone Library. Other subject files recount efforts to establish a Warren Benevolent Fund fellowship at NEC, a Dimitri MitropoulosChair in Composition and a Gunther Schuller Fund for the Study of American Music. The Conservatory faced a serious financial crisis during Schuller’s tenure as President. His files contain correspondence between himself and the Board of Trustees Chairman, Sherwin Badger, concerning this crisis. Schuller also composed a document entitled “An Appeal and a Challenge to the Trustees” to encourage contribution from the Trustees. 
This file also contains a booklet entitle “A Case for Survival” as well as press materials from this time such as an extra section which appeared in the Boston Globe entitled “A Foreclosure on Excellence." The “Instruments” file contains information regarding the purchasing of instruments during this period as well as information concerning the organs in Jordan Hall. Finally in this series, there are materials about Schuller himself such as biographical sketches, a curriculum vitae, listings of musical works, a bibliography of articles written by Schuller, a few articles about Schuller, and an interview Schuller did with Downbeat magazine.

Schuller’s External files include correspondence with various Boston media outlets including WGBH, WBZ, WCVB, WHDH, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, as well as the New York Times. Other external files document Schuller’s involvement with the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (for which Schuller served as Director from 1970-1984), discussions of a possible merger with Boston University's School of Music, a potential affiliation with MIT, and NEC’s collaboration with the Kodaly Music Teaching Institute and Kodaly Center of America. The NEASC/NASM file contains materials regarding the reaccreditation process that occurred during Schuller’s tenure.

The final series includes only one folder containing two head shot photographs.


IT'S LIKE AN ACT OF MURDER; YOU PLAY WITH INTENT TO COMMIT SOMETHING. DUKE ELLINGTON