Gunther Schuller, jazz musician, dies aged 89
Gunther Schuller, a horn player, educator and Pulitzer Prizewinning composer who was the leading proponent of the Third Stream movement fusing jazz and classical music, died Sunday at age 89.
His son, Ed Schuller, said his father died Sunday morning at a hospital in Boston. He said his father had several medical conditions.
“He was a great musician. I loved him and we will miss him,” Schuller, a bassist, said. “He had a great life, he lived his dream.”
As a composer, Schuller wrote more than 200 compositions, including solo and orchestral works, chamber music, opera and jazz. His orchestral work, “Of Reminiscences and Reflections,” dedicated to his wife Marjorie Black, won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
As writer, Schuller authored both educational works and jazz histories, including “Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development” (1968) and “The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz, 1930-1945.” In 2011, he published the first volume of his autobiography, “Gunther Schuller: A Life in Pursuit of Music and Beauty.”
Schuller’s major orchestral works i nclude “Symphony” (1965), “Seven Studies of Paul Klee” (1959) and “An Arc Ascending” (1996). He composed two operas: “The Visitation” (1966), based on a Franz Kafka story; and the children’s opera “The Fisherman and his Wife” with text by John Updike, derived from the Grimm fairy tale.
His noted Third Stream-style compositions include “Transformation for Jazz Ensemble” (1957, “Concerto for Jazz Quartet and Orchestra (1959) and “Variants on a Theme of Thelonious Monk (1960).
In 2008, Schuller was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s highest jazz honor. Earlier this year, the MacDowell Colony, a prestigious artists’ residence program, awarded him its lifetime achievement award “for setting an example of discovery and experimentation” as a composer and teacher.