Gunther Schuller Residency

The Crane School of Music is pleased to welcome Gunther Schuller to SUNY Potsdam! Information will appear in this space as it becomes available.  

Daily Schedule

November 11, Sunday

  • 2-5 p.m., C119
    Crane Symphony Orchestra rehearsal (Beethoven Symphony No. 5)
    Conductor: Gunther Schuller
    Host: Dr. Ching-Chun Lai
  • 7-9 p.m., C119
    Coaching session with Crane Jazz Ensemble
    Host: Professor Bret Zvacek

November 12, Monday

  • 1-3 p.m., C119
    Composer’s Forum
    Host: Dr. Gregory Wanamaker
  • 4-6 p.m., Hosmer Hall
    Coaching session with Crane Wind Ensemble (Schuller: On Winged Flight, Divertimento for Wind Band)
    Host: Dr. Brain Doyle

November 13, Tuesday

  • 7:30-9:30 p.m., Hosmer Hall
    Crane Symphony Orchestra rehearsal
    Conductor: Gunther Schuller
    Host: Dr. Ching-Chun Lai

November 14, Wednesday

  • 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Snell Hall
    Conversation with Gunther Schuller (topics on music history and music education)
    Host: Dean Michael Sitton, Dr. James Madeja, Dr. Jess Tyre
  • 3 - 4 p.m., C101
    Horn Masterclass
    Host: Dr. Kelly Drifmeyer
  • 4-6 p.m., Hosmer Hall
    Coach session with Crane Wind Ensemble
    Host: Dr. Brain Doyle

November 15, Thursday

  • 2-4 p.m., Hosmer Hall
    Crane Symphony Orchestra dress rehearsal
    Conductor: Gunther Schuller
    Host: Dr. Ching-Chun Lai
  • 4-6 p.m., Hosmer Hall
    Coaching session with Crane Jazz Ensemble
    Host: Professor Bret Zvacek
  • 7:30 p.m., Hosmer Hall
    Concert, tribute to Gunther Schuller
    Free admission

    , By Gerry Mulligan

    , By Miles Davis

    Moon Dreams,
    By MacGregor & Mercer/arr. Gil Evans

    By Gerry Mulligan
    Crane Jazz Ensemble
    Conducted by Bret Zvacek

    On Winged Flight, Divertimento for Wind Band
    , By Gunther Schuller
    Crane Wind Ensemble
    Conducted by Brian Doyle

    Symphony No. 5, op. 67,
    By Ludwig van Beethoven
    Crane Symphony Orchestra
    Conducted by Gunther Schuller

gunther schuller image 


Gunther Schuller's orchestral works include some of the classics of the modern repertoire written for the major orchestras of the world. Prominent among these are several masterful examples in the "Concerto for Orchestra" genre, though not all of them take that title. Most recently, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and James Levine premiered Where the Word Ends in February 2009. Semyon Bychkov and the WDR Symphony Orchestra brought Where the Word Ends to the 2010 Proms in London. An earlier work is Spectra (1958), alongside such works as the Concerto for Orchestra No. 1: Gala Music (1966), written for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Concerto for Orchestra No. 2 (1976) for the National Symphony Orchestra; and Farbenspiel (Concerto for Orchestra No. 3) (1985), written for the Berlin Philharmonic. The title of the latter, translatable as "play of colors," echoes the visual metaphor of Spectra.

Only one of Schuller's large orchestral pieces takes the generic title of "symphony": his colorful Symphony, written in 1965 for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and premiered that year. Schuller himself, however, has described his Of Reminiscences and Reflections (1993) as a "symphony for large orchestra." Written for the Louisville Orchestra and winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Music, Of Reminiscences and Reflections is Schuller's large-scale memorial to his wife of 49 years, Marjorie Black. (Another orchestral tribute to Marjorie is The Past Is In the Present, written for the centennial of the Cincinnati Symphony and premiered in May 1994.) One of his first works performed by a major orchestra was his Symphony for Brass and Percussion, played in 1949 by Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic; his Symphony No. 3, In Praise of Winds (1981) is also for wind ensemble. He has also written a Chamber Symphony and a work for solo organ titled, simply, Symphony.

Concertos and concertante works for solo or small ensemble with orchestra form a large subgroup within Schuller's output. With his two piano concertos (1962 and 1981), two violin concertos (1976 and 1991), two horn concertos (1943 and 1976), and concertos for trumpet, for flute, and for viola, Schuller has championed as soloists unusual but deserving instruments, including alto saxophone, bassoon, contrabassoon, organ, and double bass. He has shown a predilection for works combining small ensemble and orchestra in his classic Contrasts for Wind Quintet and Orchestra (1961), Concerto Festivo for Brass Quintet and Orchestra, and the Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, to name a few. For concert band are Diptych for Brass Quintet and Concert Band (1967), Eine Kleine Posaunemusik for trombone and band (1980), and Song and Dance for violin and band (1990).

As in his concertos, Schuller's chamber music is for a range of both traditional and non-traditional forces. These works appear frequently on the programs of local and internationally known ensembles throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. His String Quartet No. 3 (1986) is prominent in the repertoire of, and has been recorded by, the Emerson String Quartet, and the Juilliard Quartet has championed his String Quartet No. 4 (2002). The outstanding, exotic mixed-media work Symbiosis (1957) for violin, piano, and percussion, written for a Metropolitan Opera Orchestra violinist and his wife, a dancer, is but one example of Schuller's embrace of unusual performance opportunities and instrumental combinations.

Not to be overlooked are Schuller's original jazz compositions such as Teardrop and Jumpin' in the Future, works that epitomize the composer's "Third Stream" approach, which combines the total-chromatic language of Schoenberg and the structural sophistication of the contemporary classical composer with the ensemble fluidity and swing of jazz.

 An educator of extraordinary influence, Schuller served on the   faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and Yale University; he was, for   many years, head of contemporary music activities (succeeding Aaron Copland) as   well as a director of the Tanglewood Music Center, and served as President of   the New England Conservatory of Music. He is the author of "The Swing Era:   The Development of Jazz, 1930-1945," "Early Jazz: Its Roots and   Musical Development," "The Complete Conductor," and many other   books. In October 2011, University of Rochester Press released the first volume   of his memoirs, "Gunther Schuller: A Life in Pursuit of Music and Beauty."

His music is published by Associated Music Publishers.