Remembering Gunther Schuller

Gunther SchillerWe have heavy and grateful hearts here at From the Top today as we remember Gunther Schuller, who passed away over the weekend.

Mr. Schuller appeared twice on From the Top; the first early in our history (Show 48) and then in 2011 on a very special “highlight show”, during which he and Christopher O’Riley discussed some of his favorite pieces from past shows.

The 2011 episode also featured the the world premiere of Schuller’s 1946 (yep, you read that right, it’s not a typo; listen to find out why) Fantasia Concertante for Three Oboes & Piano performed by three teenage oboists (Samuel Waring, Rafael Horowitz Friedman, and Nicole Caligiuri) along with Christopher O’Riley at the piano. Check out the photos from the recording:

Recording with Gunther Schiiller Christopher O'Riley and Gunther Schiller in studio






Gunther Schuller has influenced generations of musicians and arts administrators, including many of us here at From the Top. We will always be thankful for his vision, passion, and tireless dedication to music.

“For most of my life he was the exemplar and mentor about all I value in music: integrity, beauty, and an all-embracing sense of what makes music across the widest possible range of style and expression, great.” From the Top host Christopher O’Riley

“From the Top wouldn’t exist if it were not for the life and work of the great Gunther Schuller.

The original concept for our program, born on the campus of New England Conservatory of Music, was a showcase of classical and jazz pre-collegiate musicians in the hands of one of the great artistic disciples of Schuller, Christopher O’Riley. The current rising generation of young music makers are a wonderful testimony to Schuller’s vision for great music-making.

We salute you, Maestro Schuller, for all that you accomplished and the countless ways you have made the music world richer for us all.” Jennifer Hurley-Wales and Gerald Slavet, From the Top founders and co-CEOs

Gunther was always insistent on everyone performing at the absolute highest level they were capable of (and he thought everyone was capable of greatness).

I’ve really come to understand his demanding nature as an outward expression of his inner love and passion for music. He loved music and art so much and just wanted it to sound good. It was never about him when he conducted or taught – it was always about making everyone else better.

I barely knew Mr. Schuller, which makes it all the more remarkable that he had a profound impact on me and many of my musical friends and colleagues. His boundless energy and enthusiasm for music and life clearly shaped New England Conservatory into the place it is today. The influence of his life’s work likely stretches farther than we will ever know.

Rest in peace, Mr. Schuller. Your musical wisdom impacted generations of musicians – both directly and indirectly – myself included. Thank you.

Add your tribute below in the comments, if you’d like. We’d love to hear from you.