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Gunther Schuller

Publisher: AMP

Of Reminiscences and Reflections (1993)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
20 Minutes
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Programme Note
Gunther Schuller Of Reminiscences and Reflections (1993)
Of Reminiscences and Reflections received the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Composed over a span of seventeen days during September 1993, the piece is written in the manner of a grand orchestral essay evoking the spontaneous, improvisatory qualities that have come to be associated with Schuller's distinctive musical style.

Of Reminiscences and Reflections was written on commission from The Louisville Orchestra. One of several pieces written on the recent death of his wife, he describes the winning work not as a memorial, "but it is a piece in which our specific musical life evoked." Schuller writes of the work: "It is in effect a symphony for large orchestra in five sections, which are played without interruption. The five sections are demarcated by clearly discernible changes in tempo, orchestration, texture and mood. Impelled by an enormous initial rush of orchestral sound, the first section exploits the full range of color and multiple textures offered by the modern symphony orchestra....This leads without pause to Part II, a driving energetic Allegro, whose middle phase is given over to the percussion section....Parts III and IV represent the 'slow movement' and 'scherzo' of the 'symphony.' Both sections exploit the woodwinds in somber duets....A partial recapitulation of the opening 'movement' (part V) leads this time to a climactic ending, ablaze with trumpets, timpani flourishes and the coloristic brilliance of the full orchestra."


  • Ensemble
    North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
    Gunther Schuller
    New World Records:
The concert [The MET Orchestra, James Levine, conductor; Carnegie Hall, 7 November 1999] also offered Gunther Schuller's Of Reminiscences and Reflections which earned this composer a Pulitzer Prize for music in 1994. Though composed in the form of a 20-minute symphony in five connected movements, the music is a memorial, almost a portrait of Mr. Schuller's wife of 49 years, Margaret, who died in 1992. Elements of 12-tone writing, astringent dissonance, rich chromatic harmony and rigorous complexities abound. The resulting musical language is distinctive and deeply personal. The piece evolves in fits and starts, though there are extended lyrical passages where instruments mingle wistfully. The composer was on hand to graciously accept the warm response.
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times,01/01/0001
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