Composer Gunther Schuller turned down offers from several prestigious institutions and opted to spend this spring in Tempe teaching music at Arizona State University.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, scholar, conductor, teacher and author of "The Swing Era," will serve as a distinguished artist in residence in the Herberger College of Fi ne Art’s S chool of Music beginning in February.
"What he has done in his life is incredible," said Wayne Bailey, director of the School of Music. "There’s no question this will garner a little bit of national attention."
Schuller will conduct two School of Music concerts featuring jazz and band ensembles in addition to hosting public discussions of his work and teaching a seminar titled "Listening 101: The Intelligent Study of Scores."
"Gunther Schuller’s presence at ASU promises to be energizing," ASU President Michael Crow said in a statement. "He is a much soughtafter arts visionary and his impact will be felt by students and faculty as well as the metropolitan Phoenix community."
Schuller was on the road and could not be reached for comment.
Born in New York to German parents in 1925, Schuller’s musical talent emerged quickly in his early years.
He studied flute, horn and music theory, and by age 17 joined the Cincinnati Symphony as principal horn. By 19 Schuller was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York.
When he wasn’t playing in the orchestra pit for wealthy opera patrons, Schuller immersed himself in New York’s bebop scene. He jammed and recorded with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and John Lewis.
By 25, Schuller turned to teaching and took a post at the Manhattan School of Music. Throughout his career he has held positions at Yale, the New England Conservatory of Music and served as artistic director of the Tanglewood Berkshire Music Center.
Over the course of his 60-year career Schuller has created more than 160 original compositions. In 1994 he won the Pulitzer Prize for "Of Reminiscences and Reflections."