MINGUS, Charles & Gunther Schuller.
Signed contract for the publication of Revelations.
Original contract dated Jan. 20 1977, on the letterhead of Schuller’s music publishing company, Margun Music, signed by Mingus and Schuller on the the final page, and with their initials to a holographic revision on the second page. A five year agreement, in which Mingus agrees to license Margan, “to print, publish, copy and vend the musical composition, entitled ‘Revelations’ composed by Charles Mingus.” A extremely uncommon late document signed by Mingus whose signature is difficult to obtain anyway, and who by this time was already suffering from ALS, the devastating motor neuron disease which was to render him unable to play or perform by the end of 1977 and caused his untimely death in January, 1979. Also significant, because the two composers had been friends and collaborators for many years, and in fact it was Schuller who had originally commissioned the bassist to compose ‘Revelations’ for the Brandeis Festival of The Arts, a three day festival of “Third Stream” – bridging between the classical and jazz disciplines – music, held in New York in the summer of 1957. This marked the first performance of a large scale orchestral piece by Mingus, enhancing his already established reputation as a gifted, fiercely innovative composer and anticipating his later extraordinary experiments with larger orchestral forms, which were to culminate in his posthumous magnum opus ‘Epitaph’. In April 1978, Schuller conducted a performance of ‘Revelations’ by the New York Philharmonic – a performance which was made possible by this agreement – to coincide with Mingus’s 56th birthday, with the composer in attendance, by this time a rare public appearance which revealed Mingus’s tragic physical decline. Always a champion of the composer’s work, Schuller played a pivotal role in reconstructing and arranging Mingus’s ‘Epitaph’ from an enormous and chaotic manuscript, discovered a decade after his death by Mingus archivist, Andrew Homzy. At about two hours long and likely the longest extended composition in jazz history, the complete composition was premiered at Lincoln Centre in 1989 under Schuller, and as recently as 2007 he conducted the piece again in its entirety, as part of a series of concerts in celebration of what would have been Mingus’s 85th birthday.
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Original typed document, signed, 3 pages on Margun Music letterhead. Some minor damage from the removal of staples from the top, left-hand corner, else very good.