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Gunther Schuller

The son of German immigrants, Gunther Schuller was born in New York on November 22, 1925. His professional music career began as a horn player, performing with the American Ballet Theater, as principal horn in the Cincinnati Symphony (1943-1945) and with the Metropolitan Opera from 1945-1959. Schuller’s jazz career also began as a French horn player on Miles Davis’s Birth of the Cool recording (1949-1950). As an educator, Schuller first taught at the Manhattan School of Music from 1950-1953. From 1964-1967 Schuller held the position of Professor of Composition at Yale University. At the request of Aaron Copland, Schuller began teaching at the Berkshire Music Center (at Tanglewood) in 1963 and subsequently served as its Artistic Director from 1969-1984.

From 1967-1977, Schuller served as President of the New England Conservatory where he formalized NEC’s commitment to jazz by establishing the first degree-granting jazz program at a major classical conservatory in 1969. Shortly thereafter, he instituted the Third Stream department (subsequently named the Contemporary Improvisation department) to explore the regions where the two musical “streams” of classical and jazz meet and mingle (Schuller had coined the term “Third Stream” during a lecture he gave at Brandeis University in 1957). He hired the iconic Ran Blake to be the department’s chair. Early jazz hires included the legendary Jaki Byard and George Russell.

Along the way, Schuller increased NEC’s profile among the world’s great music institutions in remarkable ways. He insisted from the earliest days of his tenure that contemporary music have equal billing next to the acknowledged classical masterpieces, and that students be equally adept at performing both. He bolstered and revitalized NEC’s string, piano and composition faculties, hiring artists whose influence remains intact to this day, among them Louis Krasner, Laurence Lesser, Russell Sherman, and Donald Martino. In one of Boston’s most notorious periods of racial disharmony, he created community outreach programs that sent young, eager musicians to bring the gift of music into some of the city’s most marginalized neighborhoods. And, championing the forgotten music of a neglected American composer, he founded the New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble and recorded Scott Joplin: The Red Back Book, which won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance, ignited a latter-day ragtime revival, and spurred tours across America, Russia, and to the White House.

Schuller has composed over 180 works, spanning all musical genres including solo works, orchestral works, chamber music, opera, and jazz. Among Schuller’s orchestral works are Symphony (1965), Seven Studies of Paul Klee (1959), An Arc Ascending (1996), Four Soundscapes, and Shapes and Designs. Schuller’s large scale work Of Reminiscences and Reflections was composed as a tribute to his wife of forty-nine years, Marjorie Black. In addition to composing for the standard concerto instruments – piano, violin, horn etc., Schuller also wrote concertos for instruments which had been previously neglected in the concerto repertoire such as the alto saxophone, bassoon, contrabassoon, organ, and double bass. Schuller also composed a number of works for solo ensemble with orchestra (or in some cases, band).  Examples include Contrasts for Wind Quintet and Orchestra (1967), Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, Diptych for Brass Quintet and Concert Band (1967), and Eine kleine Posaunemusik for trombone and band (1980).

Schuller has composed two operas: The Visitation (1966), based on a Kafka story; and the children’s opera The Fisherman and his Wife with text by John Updike, derived from the Grimm fairy tale. Notable among Schuller’s works in the chamber music genre are the String Quartet No. 3 (1986), String Quartet No. 4 (2002) and Symbiosis (1957), a piece for violin, piano, and percussion performed in conjunction with a dancer.Schuller’s original jazz compositions occupy an important place in his overall oeuvre. Many of these works epitomize the Third Stream style.  These include Transformation for jazz ensemble (1957), Concertino for jazz quartet and orchestra (1959), Variants on a Theme of Thelonious Monk (1960), Teardrop, and Jumpin’ in the Future.

In addition to his musical compositions, Schuller has written several books of note. These include Horn Technique (1962), Early Jazz: its Roots and Musical Development(1968) and its sequel the Swing Era: the Development of Jazz, 1930-1945, as well as The Compleat Conductor (1997).

Gunther Schuller has also made his mark on the music publishing industry, founding Margun Music (1975) and GunMar Music (1979). Through these firms, Schuller published his own editions of ragtime music by Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb and Eubie Blake, as well as jazz and third stream music by such artists as Charles Mingus, George Russell, Johnny Carisi, Ran Blake, and Jimmy Giuffre. (The GunMar/Margun catalogs are now part of G.Schirmer/Music Sales/AMP). A short time later, in 1980, Schuller founded the record company and label, GM.

Schuller has also been the recipient of several prestigious awards. These include the William Shuman Award (1988) given by Columbia University, the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award (1991), a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his piece Of Reflections and Reminisciences, the Gold Medal for Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1997), the Downbeat Lifetime Achievement Award, and an inaugural membership in the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.The accomplishments of Gunther Schuller continue to accumulate today. Most recently, Schuller was named the 2007 Fromm Visiting Professor in Music Composition at Harvard University. Schuller previously held the position of Artist in Residence for 2005 at the University of Wisconsin. In addition, Schuller's longtime involvement with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston continues. This ensemble named him Conductor Laureate in 1990, and he has served as their Principal Guest Conductor since 1998.

Sources:
Richard Dyer, “Gunther Schuller”, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 30
October 2007), <http:www.grovemusic.com>
"Gunther Schuller” [Jazz], Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 30 October
2007), <http://www.grovemusic.com>
"Gunther Schuller,” G Schirmer Inc., (Accessed 2 November 2007),
<http://www.schirmer.com>
"Gunther Schuller”, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, (Accessed 2 November
2007), <http://www.proarte.org/gunther.html>

Physical description

This collection encompasses two record cartons (approximately 2 lin. ft.) consisting almost entirely of paper files along with a few photographs.

Provenance

This collection includes the materials created by, and belonging to Gunther Schuller, who served as President of New England Conservatory from 1967-1977. The materials in this collection have been stored at NEC since Schuller’s tenure. One particular letter from composer Arthur Custer (July 5, 1973) was individually donated to the NEC library by Schuller on June 20, 1977.

Access

Access to the Schuller Collection is granted by the Archivist. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. There are limited restrictions pertaining to this collection.

Copyright

All copyrights to this collection belong to the New England Conservatory. Permission to publish materials from this collection is granted by the Director of Libraries. This collection should be cited as: Gunther Schuller Collection, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.

Scope & Content

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 Correspondencefiles 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/Public Relations, 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.

Container List

Series 1: Correspondence/Memoranda

Box 1 – Folder 1
Correspondence, General, 1968
Box 1 – Folder 2
Correspondence, General, 1969-1970
Box 1 – Folder 3
Correspondence, General, 1971
Box 1 – Folder 4
Correspondence, General, 1972
Box 1 – Folder 5
Correspondence, General, 1973
Box 1 – Folder 6
Correspondence, General, 1974-1975
Box 1 – Folder 7
Correspondence, General, January-March 1976
Box 1 – Folder 8
Correspondence, General, April-May 1976
Box 1 – Folder 9
Correspondence, General, June-July 1976
Box 1 – Folder 10
Correspondence, General, August-October 1976
Box 1 – Folder 11
Correspondence, General, November-December 1976
Box 1 – Folder 12
Correspondence, General, January-March 1977
Box 1 – Folder 13
Correspondence, General, April-June 1977
Box 1 – Folder 14
Correspondence, General, 1980s and undated
Box 1 – Folder 15
Correspondence, Eleanor Steber
Box 1 – Folder 16
Correspondence, NEC Administration
Box 1 – Folder 17
Memoranda – NEC Community

Series 2: Faculty Files

Box 1 – Folder 18
Bernard Barbeau
Box 1 – Folder 19
Leon Barzin
Box 1 – Folder 20
Frank Battisti
Box 1 – Folder 21
Ran Blake
Box 1 – Folder 22
Robert Brink
Box 1 – Folder 23
Robert Ceely
Box 1 – Folder 24
Susan Clickner
Box 1 – Folder 25
Robert Cogan
Box 1 – Folder 26
Terry Decima
Box 1 – Folder 27
Lorna Cooke deVaron
Bos 1 – Folder 28
Robert DiDomenica
Box 1 – Folder 29
Frank Epstein
Box 1 – Folder 30
John Felice
Box 1 – Folder 31
Richard Fletcher
Box 1 – Folder 32
Fernand Gillet
Box 1 – Folder 33
Lee Halprin
Box 1 – Folder 34
Yuko Hayashi
Box 1 – Folder 35
John Heiss
Box 1 - Folder 36
James Hoffman
Box 1 – Folder 37
Veronica Jochum von Moltke
Box 1 – Folder 38
Laurence Lesser
Box 1 – Folder 39
Joseph Maneri
Box 1 – Folder 40
Jacob Maxim
Box 1 – Folder 41
Thomas McKinley
Box 1 – Folder 42
Richard Moore
Box 1 – Folder 43
Robert Nagel
Box 1 – Folder 44
Mark Pearson
Box 1 – Folder 45
Malcolm Peyton
Box 1 – Folder 46
Daniel Pinkham
Box 1 – Folder 47
Richard Pittman
Box 1 – Folder 48
Frederik Prausnitz
Box 1 - Folder 49
Kenneth Radnofsky
Box 1 – Folder 50
Victor Rosenbaum
Box 1 – Folder 51
Eric Rosenblith
Box 1 - Folder 52
Matthew Ruggiero
Box 1 – Folder 53
George Russell
Box 1 – Folder 54
Miklos Schwalb
Box 1 – Folder 55
Robert Selig
Box 1 – Folder 56
Russell Sherman
Box 1 - Folder 57
Robert Sherwood
Box 1 – Folder 58
Leonard Shure
Box 1 – Folder 59
Robert Sullivan
Box 1 – Folder 60
Julia Sutton
Box 1 – Folder 61
John Swallow
Box 1 – Folder 62
Mike Walters
Box 1 – Folder 64
Lawrence Wolfe
Box 1 – Folder 65
Benjamin Zander
Box 1 – Folder 66
Gerald Zaritzsky
Box 1 – Folder 67
Faculty, General
Box 1 – Folder 68
Faculty Council
Box 1 – Folder 69
National Labor Standards Board/Faculty Senate

Series 3: Academic Department Files
Box 1 - Folder 70
Chamber Music
Box 1 – Folder 71
Electronic Music
Box 1 – Folder 72
Humanities
Box 1 – Folder 73
Music Education
Box 1 – Folder 74
Music Literature
Box 1 – Folder 75
Opera
Box 1 – Folder 76
Piano
Box 1 – Folder 77
Preparatory/Extension Division/Summer School
Box 1 – Folder 78
Theory

Series 4: Administrative Departments

Box 1 – Folder 79
Admissions
Box 1 – Folder 80
Board of Trustees
Box 1 – Folder 81
Building Operations
Box 1 – Folder 82
Community Services Department, 1968-1969
Box 1 – Folder 83
Community Services Department, 1970
Box 1 – Folder 84
Community Services Department, 1971
Box 1 – Folder 85
Community Services Department, 1972-1976
Box 1 – Folder 86
Community Services Department, COLLAGE
Box 1 – Folder 87
Community Services Department / Mass. Department of Correction
Box 1 – Folder 88
Community Services Department, Report to Harbridge House
Box 1 – Folder 89
Community Services Department, Webster Lewis
Box 1 - Folder 90
Community Services Department, Post Pop Space Rock Orchestra
Box 1 – Folder 91
Dean’s Office
Box 1 – Folder 92
Development/PR
Box 1 – Folder 93
Registrar
Box 1 – Folder 94
Correspondence, Administrative Staff

Series 5:  Ensemble Records

Box 1 – Folder 95
NEC Brass Quintet, Scholarship String Quartet
Box 1 – Folder 96
Chorus
Box 1 – Folder 97
Orchestra
Box 1 – Folder 98
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, General Correspondence, 1972-1973
Box 1 – Folder 99
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, General Correspondence, 1974
Box 1 – Folder 100
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Ascona
Box 1 – Folder 101
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Auch/Bordeaux

Box 2
Box 2 – Folder 1
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Interlaken
Box 2 – Folder 2
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Lucerne
Box 2 – Folder 3
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Mazamet
Box 2 – Folder 4
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Nevers
Box 2 – Folder 5
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Paris
Box 2 – Folder 6
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Sion
Box 2 – Folder 7
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, General Information
Box 2 – Folder 8
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, General Information
Box 2 – Folder 9
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Newspaper Clippings
Box 2 – Folder 10
Orchestra/Chorus European Tour, Ragtime Ensemble
Box 2 – Folder 11
Ragtime Ensemble, General
Box 2 -  Folder 12
Ragtime Ensemble, Soviet Union Tour
Box 2  - Folder 13
Ragtime Ensemble, Recordings

Series 6:  Gift / Bequest Files

Box 2 – Folder 14
Gift Acknowledgements, 1967
Box 2 – Folder 15
Gift Acknowledgements, 1968
Box 2 – Folder 16
Gift Acknowledgements, 1969
Box 2 – Folder 17
Gift Acknowledgements, 1970
Box 2 – Folder 18
Gift Acknowledgements, January-February 1971
Box 2 – Folder 19
Gift Acknowledgements, March-May 1971
Box 2 – Folder 20
Gift Acknowledgements, June 1971-1976
Box 2 – Folder 21
Gifts in memory of Mary Fiske Hoffman
Box 2 – Folder 22
Gifts in memory of J. Harleston Parker
Box 2 – Folder 23
Tourjee Fund
Box 2 – Folder 23
William A. Valkenier Scholarship
Box 2 – Folder 24
Chester Williams Fund
Box 2 – Folder 25
Named Scholarship Donations
Box 2 – Folder 26
Large/Significant Foundation Gifts
Box 2 – Folder 27
Gifts, Other
Box 2 – Folder 28
Gift Acknowledgements from John Lovell, Centennial Fund Treasurer, December 1967-May 1968
Box 2 – Folder 29
Gift Acknowledgements from John Lovell, Centennial Fund Treasurer, June-December 1968

Series 7: Student Organization Records

Box 2 – Folder 30
Collective Black Artists at NEC (CBANEC)
Box 2 – Folder 31
Sigma Alpha Iota
Box 2 – Folder 32
Student Democratic Society
Box 2 – Folder 33
Correspondence to students/Student Comments/Studies

Series 8:  Special Event Records

Box 2 – Folder 34
American Society of University Composers Conference
Box 2 – Folder 35
Centennial/Schuller Inauguration
Box 2 – Folder 36
Centennial Symposium
Box 2 – Folder 37
Commencements
Box 2 – Folder 38
Commencement, 1970 (cancelled)
Box 2 – Folder 39
Composers String Quartet Contest
Box 2 – Folder 40
Ernst Krenek Concert/Reception
Box 2 - Folder 41
ISCM World Music Days (1976)
Box 2 – Folder 42
Pelleas and Melisande Performance
Box 2 – Folder 43
Pro Musicis 30th Anniversary Gala
Box 2 – Folder 44
Eleanor Steber Concert (& biographical information)
Box 2 – Folder 45
Strike, 1970
Box 2 – Folder 46
Vietnam Moratorium

Series 9: Subject Files

Box 2 - Folder 47
Bicentennial Recording
Box 2 – Folder 48
Brown Hall
Box 2 – Folder 49
The Composer Show
Box 2 – Folder 50
Dimitri Mitropoulos Chair and Fund
Box 2 – Folder 51
Financial Crisis at NEC
Box 2 – Folder 52
Gunther Schuller – Biographical Information
Box 2 – Folder 53
Gunther Schuller Center for American Music
Box 2 – Folder 54
Harrison Keller String Quartet
Box 2 – Folder 55
Instruments
Box 2 – Folder 56
Pelleas and Melisande
Box 2 – Folder 57
Voice of Firestone / Firestone Library
Box 2 – Folder 58
Warren Benevolent Fund
 
Series 10: External Files

Box 2 – Folder 59
AICUM
Box 2 – Folder 60
Berklee College of Music
Box 2 – Folder 61
Boston, City of
Box 2 – Folder 62
Boston Globe
Box 2 – Folder 63
Boston Herald
Box 2 – Folder 64
Boston Pops/BSO
Box 2 – Folder 65
Boston University
Box 2 – Folder 66
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Box 2 – Folder 67
Hong Kong Arts Centre
Box 2 – Folder 68
KMTI/KCA (Kodaly)
Box 2 – Folder 69
Mass. Council on Arts and Humanities
Box 2 – Folder 70
MIT
Box 2 – Folder 71
Metropolitan Cultural Alliance
Box 2 – Folder 72
Museum of Fine Arts
Box 2 – Folder 73
National Music Council
Box 2 – Folder 74
NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)/NASM (National
Association of Schools of Music)
Box 2 – Folder 75
NY Times
Box 2 – Folder 76
Opera Company of Boston
Box 2 – Folder 77
Tanglewood
Box 2 – Folder 78
US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
Box 2 – Folder 79
Worcester Consortium for Higher Education
Box 2 – Folder 80
Young Audiences

Series 11: Photographs

Box 2 - Folder 81