Gunther Schuller, his influence on the French horn

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Farnsley, Stephen H.
Mackey, Elizabeth Jocelyn, 1927-
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Gunther Schuller is presently one of America's most influential music personalities. As one colleague of Schuller's at the New England Conservatory has written, "In many ways, Gunther Schuller is a modern incarnation of the renaissance man, with his interests and abilities flowing from him like ripples in a pond."1 Schuller, in his six decades, has been one of the nation's first-rate orchestral horn players and has participated in the instrument's introduction into the jazz medium; his interest in musicological research has encompassed the study of various types of music and resulted in Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development, 2 considered by some to be "the definitive musicological treatment of jazz history . . ..”3 Schuller is also recognized as a leading contemporary composer and conductor, former composition instructor and long-time artistic co-director of the annual summer Tanglewood Festival, and teacher, authority, and author on horn playing.The dissertation traces Schuller's varied career, giving particular attention to his phenomenal success as a virtuoso of the French horn by age seventeen. The study also details his development as a composer, concentrating primarily on his compositional style as revealed in the works for horn as a solo and chamber music instrument. Among the works discussed are the horn concertos, the woodwind suite and brass quintet, Lines and Contrasts for sixteen horns, and Five Pieces for Five Horns. Included in the discussion is his unpublished and virtually unknown first Horn Concerto, which was written (and performed only once) by the composer while he was first horn in the Cincinnati Symphony. For the research, a copy of the manuscript was provided by the composer. (To date, the only published remnant is an arrangement of the second movement entitled Nocturne for horn and piano.)The dissertation examines Schuller's ideas concerning the "art" of modern horn playing through a discussion of his writings (Horn Technique), his musical studies (Studies for Unaccompanied Horn and Duets for Unaccompanied Horns), and through the observations of colleagues and former students. Fortunately, some of Schuller's well-articulated thoughts on musicianship in general and horn playing specifically have been retained in the tapes of the Sixth Annual International Horn Workshop, held at Ball State University in 1974. These are transcribed and included in the Appendix.In summary, the research is in three major sections. The first deals with biographical information-- Schuller's various careers, a survey of his compositions and writings, and a discussion and evaluation of his playing career based on information from his colleagues, recordings, and reviews. Section two examines the composer’s style and his influence on the instrument’s technique through a detailed study of the solo and chamber works for horn. Part three concerns his pedagogical and philosophical ideas regarding music education, with particular attention to the horn and horn playing.1. Frank Battisti, "Gunther Schuller and His Many Worlds of Music," The Instrumentalist, XXXII (June, 1978), p. 39.2. Gunther Schuller, Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development, (New York: Oxford University Press), 1968.3. Robert Palmer, "Gunther Schuller: On the American Musical Melting Pot," Downbeat, XLIII (Feb. 12, 1976), 12.