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Robert Shaw Biography

Robert Shaw

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Born: 1916. Died: 1999. Lived in: United States

The late Robert Shaw, called "the Dean of American choral conductors," died in January, 1999. His long and fruitful relationship with Telarc International spanned twenty years and produced 41 recordings, eleven of which have won Grammy Awards.

Shaw became Music Director Emeritus and Conductor Laureate of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1988 after serving as Music Director of the Orchestra for 21 years. During his tenure as Music Director, he built the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra into a major American orchestra, garnering widespread acclaim through national and international tours and award-winning recordings.

A regular guest conductor of major orchestras in this country and abroad, Mr. Shaw was also in demand as a teacher and lecturer at leading U. S. colleges and universities. The Robert Shaw Institute was founded in recent years to foster excellence in music-making, especially in the choral arts. Now affiliated with Ohio State University, the Institute's summer festivals in southwest France and the U.S. attracted admiring attention from the international press and produced a number of recordings from the Robert Shaw Festival Singers.

Robert Shaw's distinguished career began in New York where he prepared choruses for such renowned conductors as Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter. Soon he was conducting major symphony orchestras. In 1949, he formed the Robert Shaw Chorale which over the next 17 years became America's premiere touring choral group and was sent by the U. S. State Department on several tours to 30 countries in Europe (including the Soviet Union), the Middle East and Latin America. Mr. Shaw served as Music Director of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and as Associate Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, working closely with George Szell for 11 years before becoming Music Director of the ASO in 1967.

Throughout his career, Mr. Shaw received abundant recognition for his work. His awards included 14 Grammy awards; England's Gramophone Magazine Award; a Gold Record for the first RCA classical recording to sell more than a million copies; honorary degrees and citations from forty U. S. Colleges and universities; four ASCAP awards for service to contemporary music; the first Guggenheim Fellowship ever awarded to a conductor; the Alice M. Ditson Award for Service to American Music; the George Peabody Medal for outstanding contributions to music in America; and the Gold Baton Award of the American Symphony Orchestra League for "distinguished service to music and the arts."

Mr. Shaw was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the National Council on the Arts, and he was a 1991 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, the nation's highest honor to performing artists "who, through a lifetime of accomplishment, have enriched American life by their achievement in the performing arts." He was named "Musician of the Year" in the 1992 edition of Musical America, the international directory of the performing arts and during the same year was awarded the National Medal of Arts in a White House ceremony. He was the 1993 recipient of the Conductors' Guild Theodore Thomas Award, in recognition of outstanding life achievement in conducting as well as his contributions to the education and training of young conductors. In 1998, Shaw was honored by the Orchestra of St. Luke's with their "Gift of Music" Award. He was also be the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Yale University.

Media Articles
Obituary, New York Times, Robert Shaw, Choral and Orchestral Leader, Is Dead at 82

Obituary, New York Times, Robert Shaw; Dean of U.S. Choral Conductors

Obituary, New York Times,


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