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Gunther Schuller dies age 89

Composer, French horn player and writer Gunther Schuller has died

Composer, French horn player and writer Gunther Schuller died in Boston in June. His death was caused by complications of leukemia. Born in New York in 1925, Schuller worked across jazz and classical music. But he started out as a classical musician, becoming principal French horn of The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at the age of 17.

In the late 1950s he defined what he called “Third Stream”, which referred to a style of music inbetween jazz and classical music. His notion of Third Stream put a positive spin on the often negative response many critics took to such a musical fusion. Rather than treating it as something which was not jazz music played by classical musicians, nor the reverse, Third Stream was an attempt to bridge the gap and develop appreciation between musicians working in different genres.

Schuller collaborated with many musicians, composers and singers, including Maria Callas, Frank Sinatra, Charles Mingus, Ran Blake, Bill Evans, Stravinsky and Toscanini. He also played horn on Miles Davis’s Porgy And Bess and the final Birth Of The Cool session. As a writer, his published works included two histories of jazz (Early Jazz and The Swing Era), as well as a sizeable autobiography (A Life In Pursuit Of Music And Beauty). He won many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for his composition Of Reminiscences And Reflections, and he was made a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 1991.