Conductor | Composer | Arranger



Conductor | Composer | Arranger


Lawrence University has created a webpage dedicated to the remembrance of Fred. 

Article posted on August 25th, 2014 by Rick Peterson, Lawrence University

Article posted on August 26th, 2014 by Eastman School of Music



Fred Sturm has composed and arranged music featuring jazz vocalists Kurt Elling and Bobby McFerrin; trumpeters Clay Jenkins, Ingrid Jensen, Wynton Marsalis, and Clark Terry; trombonists Bob Brookmeyer, Wycliffe Gordon, and Jim Pugh; saxophonists Branford Marsalis, Chis Vadala, and Phil Woods; guitarists Gene Bertoncini, Mike Stern, and John Scofield; vibraphonists Gary Burton and Joe Locke; bassists Arild Andersen and Ike Sturm; pianist Lars Jansson; and drummer Steve Houghton.

Sturm has served as guest conductor/composer/arranger for professional jazz ensembles and radio orchestras in Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland and Norway; as director of university jazz ensembles and high school all-state jazz bands throughout the U.S.; as clinician at national educational conferences and festivals; and as composer-in-residence for school and university music programs.

Sturm works are published by Lorenz Heritage JazzWorks, Universal Edition, Sierra Music Publications, Kendor, Warner Brothers/Alfred Music, Advance Music, Ensemble Publications, Really Good Music, and UNC Jazz Press and have been issued on Concord Jazz, RCA, hrMedia, and Warner Brothers Records. His 9 "inning" baseball symphony Forever Spring has continuously toured American orchestras with The Baseball Music Project under the auspices of the Baseball Hall of Fame since 2005. Migrations: One World, Many Musics, his concert suite inspired by indigenous music from 21 countries, was premiered by vocalist Bobby McFerrin and the NDR Big Band in Germany in 2007 and toured Europe the following summer.

Sturm was the 2003 recipient of the ASCAP/IAJE Commission In Honor of Quincy Jones, a prize granted annually to one established jazz composer of international prominence. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music, and the Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Fund. His texts Changes Over Time: The Evolution of Jazz Arranging, Kenny Wheeler: Collected Works on ECM, and Maria Schneider: Evanescence are published by Advance Music (Germany) and Universal Edition (Vienna), and his teaching concept titled All Ears: Improvisation, Aural Training, and the Creative Process is widely used by school music educators.

Sturm studied at Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music, the University of North Texas (performing in the One O’Clock Lab Band), the Eastman School of Music (performing in the Eastman Jazz Ensemble), and was a founding member of the RCA, Warner Brothers, and Pablo Records jazz nonet Matrix. 

Sturm is the Director of Jazz and Improvisational Music at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin. He previously served as Professor and Chair of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media at the Eastman School of Music in New York from 1991 to 2002, where he directed the internationally acclaimed Eastman Jazz Ensemble, conducted the 70-piece Eastman Studio Orchestra, and coordinated the Eastman jazz composition and arranging program. Sturm received the University Award for Excellence in Teaching at Lawrence in 2005 and the 2010 Downbeat Jazz Education Achievement Award. Over the course of his university teaching career, Downbeat Magazine has cited his ensembles as the finest in the United States and Canada nine times.


ASCAP/IAJE Commission In Honor of Quincy Jones

University Award for Excellence in Teaching at Lawrence

2010 Downbeat Jazz Education Achievement Award

Downbeat Magazine has cited his ensembles as the finest in the United States and Canada nine times

National Endowment for the Arts grants

Meet the Composer grants

National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences grants

Howard Hanson Institute for American Music grants

Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Fund grants



"Fred Sturm has proven to be a great asset to the musical world as a teacher, composer and author.  His gifts have enriched the musical life of all the people who have been fortunate enough to share his wisdom and musicality."

-Bob Brookmeyer



"Fred Sturm has proven to be a great asset to the musical world as a teacher, composer and author.  His gifts have enriched the musical life of all the people who have been fortunate enough to share his wisdom and musicality."

-Bob Brookmeyer

Fred Sturm’s music as well as his educational philosophy reflect who he is. He lives, composes, and teaches in a path of high creative standards backed by masterful knowledge and musical techniques. Additionally, he has enabled a lot of students and peers to achieve their dreams along the way.
— Harold Danko, Eastman School of Music

I met Fred Sturm years ago and was immediately impressed with his ability as a teacher… a sort of modern day Pied Piper. I was bowled over when I recently discovered what an excellent writer Fred is. He handles an orchestra the way we handle our limbs. He “makes” it do whatever he desires. Not every writer can boast of this. I find his writing and composing challenging. Enough so to make me go home and check what I’m doing these days. Would that the world had more Fred Sturms.
— Benny Golson, legendary jazz composer & saxophonist

Fred is truly a great educator, composer, and arranger. I have known Fred for 30 years and his unique blend of classical and jazz elements in his arrangements and compositions put him in a special class of elite professional writers. Fred is also at the top of my list for jazz educators in the entire country. He has an in-depth, diverse knowledge of music and knows how to relate to any age student from beginner to advanced.
— Matt Harris, California State University at Northridge

Fred Sturm is one of the many great jazz artists featured with the Klüvers Big Band during the ensemble’s 26-year history. Everybody in the group agrees that Fred is the best conductor we have ever worked with. A great arranger in the American jazz tradition, Fred has renewed the art of writing for big band. He has made it possible for jazz ensembles all over the world to present repertoire that sounds so different from music normally associated with big bands.
— Jens Klüver, Aarhus Denmark

After knowing Fred Sturm for 30 years he continues to inspire me as a composer, arranger, and teacher. Whether he is writing for young musicians or professional players, his skills and creativity are only matched by his musicality and integrity.
— Clay Jenkins, Eastman School of Music

Fred is a warm, generous, and positive person. He has all those great human qualities that are so important when you teach, communicate, and work with other people. I have seen him in action with his students where he always manages to being out the best. Fred is not just a good teacher; he is a great composer and arranger. He has a profound knowledge about writing that he shares through his music, teaching, and books. I am honored and thankful to have him as a friend.
— Lars Jansson, pianist & composer, Ljungskile Sweden

Fred has many roles to play— administrator, teacher, band leader, and author (Changes Over Time: The Evolution of Jazz Arranging— what a great book!). And he’s first-rate at all of them. He is also a major force in supporting contemporary big band composition, through both his commissions and his writing. He has a wonderful family, and if the Cubs would ever win the World Series his life would be complete!
— Jim McNeely, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra & Frankfurt Radio Big Band

Fred’s residency has been a great lift to our jazz program. His charts are innovative and creative and they stretch the boundaries of the modern jazz ensemble. He is an extremely knowledgeable musician, the consummate jazz educator and complete professional with an easy-going but driving spirit. His visit was a positive and extremely informative experience, and his infectious love of music, jazz, and jazz education has energized my students and our program. Fred’s impact on my students is evident in their references to his clinics and the knowledge that they gained from his time here.
— Alex Parker, Baylor University

What a wonderful writer! His music is smartly crafted, full of power, rich with sensitivity and alive with personality.
— Maria Schneider

I know Fred Sturm as an inspiring musician, teacher, writer and clinician. His literary efforts such as Changes Over Time: The Evolution of Jazz Arranging and his meticulous work as the editor for the collected works of Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler are truly outstanding. He simply brings the reader inside the music he loves, and helps to resolve the questions raised by the music. His books are on the required reading list for all of my students.
— Neil Slater, former Director of the University of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band

Fred is the consummate artist-educator. A truly unique voice in jazz composition and arranging, Fred is equally comfortable writing for everyone, from beginners to professionals. No matter what the level, the music is always fresh and innovative. These skills carry over into his conducting and teaching, where I have observed him working with students of all ages. I never cease to be amazed at how much music is made, and how positive he makes the students feel during and after the performance. There are very few teachers that take such intense interest in the well-being of their students, and yet have world-class chops and continue to develop themselves as artists. Fred is the standard by which all of us in the jazz education business should be judged.
— Dean Sorenson, University of Minnesota

I feel so fortunate to know and to have had opportunities to work with Fred Sturm. He is unique and extraordinary— as a writer, educator, and person. His music is compelling and innovative, cutting new directions in the genre of large jazz ensemble music that are desperately needed and appreciated. His library includes charts that are written creatively for musicians at all levels of experience, and Fred’s tunes are always among my high school students’ favorite compositions each year. Not only is he an expert conductor and clinician, again able to inspire students of every age and skill level, but he is also a champion for teachers— a wonderful advocate for music education “in the trenches.” Beyond these accomplishments is an engaging and thoughtful personality, marked by both humor and humility. I consider Fred Sturm a major force in the field of jazz education, and a highly influential figure in my own development as an educator.
— Bill Tiberio, Fairport NY High School & former New York IAJE President