Gunther Schuller Turns 75!


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AAJ: Will there ever be any sort of re-issues or any kind of releases from musicians that haven't been able to record for a while or is it always going to be newer musicians trying to push the music forward?

GS: I am glad you asked that. You know, nowadays the big companies only record the youngest people they can find. If a big company can find an eleven-year-old Wynton Marsalis, they'll record him the next day. In the meantime, they're ignoring all the older ones. I got John LaPorta who is now 77, Joe Wilder who is, I think, 76 and Britt Woodman who is also in his seventies and I recorded them, because they were not getting any recordings. So I am on that front, too. No, I am not just working with young people. I hate it when the big companies look for some sensation. If someone is fifteen-years old and can play a couple of Charlie Parker tunes they think 'Wow ! Let's record him!' In the meantime all the great musicians are dying on the vine, except when little companies spend some money to record them. But the big one's won't touch them, there is no money in it.

AAJ: With a laundry list of accolades: honorary doctorates, a genius award, lifetime achievement awards and a Pulitzer, what's still motivating you? What do you feel that you have left to accomplish that keeps you from going on that beach to retire?

GS: Well, because music is my life and music is not work for me. People complain "Oh, I've got so much work, I hate work." I don't hate work, composing is not work for me, it's my pleasure; it's my life. So why should I stop? If something is pleasurable and exciting and rewarding, why should one stop? So I don't intend to retire in that sense, the Florida sense. As long as I'm healthy and can keep going that's what I'll do. I would like to read some books: I don't have time; I would like to continue working on my autobiography. Because I have sixty years of being a professional composer, conductor, musician, whatever, and you develop a lot of friendships and you get involved with a lot of sort of long-term commitments and obligations. And of course my three companies keep me incredibly busy.
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