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Schuller, Gunther

Schuller, Gunther

Born in 1925


Inducted in 1998

Gunther Schuller is one of those very special American musicians whose talents and accomplishments cover a broad spectrum of musical styles and activities. Composer, conductor, historian, author, educator, music publisher and record producer, he has been a productive activist on behalf of his contemporaries, and an important influence everywhere. After playing in the Ballet Theatre Orchestra under Antal Dorati, Schuller was named principal horn of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at the age of 17, and two years later he was given the same position in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. By then he was already active as a composer; he played his First Horn Concerto in Cincinnati in 1944, and that year his Suite for Wind Quintet became his first work to be published. In 1959 he gave up performing in order to devote himself primarily to composing. His career as an educator began in 1950 at the Manhattan School of Music, where he taught horn and chamber music until 1963. He was an associate professor of music at Yale from 1964 to 1967, when he was appointed president of the New England Conservatory of Music. At present he is artistic director of both the Festival at Sandpoint and the Northwest Bach Festival, and coartistic director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Schuller has written widely on various aspects of music and its performance; among his five books published by Oxford University Press are his landmark jazz history studies Early Jazz and The Swing Era: the Development of Jazz, 1930-1945 and his recent study of conducting as an interpretive art, The Complete Conductor. As a conductor himself, he has appeared with some fifty orchestras in the United States, including those of Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and with other major orchestras around the world, among them the Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, several European radio orchestras and the leading orchestras of Australia. Among the honors Schuller has received, in addition to the Pulitzer, the Grammy and numerous honorary doctorates, are the Darius Milhaud Award, the Max Rudolf Award of the Conductors Guild, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany, and Columbia University's William Schuman Award for lifetime achievement in composition.