Another historic concert this week – The New York Philharmonic with the legendary Erich Leinsdorf guest conducting and Radu Lupu, piano in a broadcast from 1982 featuring music of Gunther Schuller, Beethoven and Richard Strauss.
The concert begins with Gunther Schuller’s Seven Studies On Themes of Paul Klee – Lupu joins and they continue with a performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto – the Concert ends with music of Richard Strauss.
Gunther Schuller (November 22, 1925 – June 21, 2015) was an American composer, conductor, horn player, author, historian and jazz musician. In 1955, Schuller and jazz pianist John Lewis founded the Modern Jazz Society, which gave its first concert at Town Hall, New York, the same year and later became known as the Jazz and Classical Music Society. While lecturing at Brandeis University in 1957, he coined the term “Third Stream” to describe music that combines classical and jazz techniques. He became an enthusiastic advocate of this style and wrote many works according to its principles, among them Transformation (1957, for jazz ensemble), Concertino (1959, for jazz quartet and orchestra), Abstraction (1959, for nine instruments), and Variants on a Theme of Thelonious Monk (1960, for 13 instruments) utilizing Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman. In 1966, he composed the opera The Visitation. He also orchestrated Scott Joplin’s only known surviving opera Treemonisha for the Houston Grand Opera’s premiere production of this work in 1975.
In 1959, Schuller gave up performance to devote himself to composition, teaching and writing. He conducted internationally and studied and recorded jazz with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie and John Lewis among many others. Schuller wrote over 190 original compositions in many musical genres.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Schuller was president of New England Conservatory, where he founded The New England Ragtime Ensemble. During this period, he also held a variety of positions at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home in Tanglewood, serving as director of new music activities from 1965 to 1969 and as artistic director of the Tanglewood Music Center from 1970 to 1984 and creating the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music.
Schuller was editor-in-chief of Jazz Masterworks Editions, and co-director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra in Washington, D.C. Another effort of preservation was his editing and posthumous premiering at Lincoln Center in 1989 of Charles Mingus’s immense final work, Epitaph, subsequently released on Columbia/Sony Records. He was the author of two major books on the history of jazz, Early Jazz (1968) and The Swing Era (1991).
His students included Irwin Swack, Ralph Patt, John Ferritto, Eric Alexander Hewitt, Mohammed Fairouz, Oliver Knussen, Nancy Zeltzman, Riccardo Dalli Cardillo and hundreds of others.
Nothing needs to be added about Leinsdorf or Lupu – but the bottom line; this certainly qualifies for Wednesday Anti-Road Rage music.
Time to relax – turn it up and sit back. You can resume in 90 minutes.