Robert Shaw

Composers

Biography

Born: April 30, 1916; Red Bluff, CA   Died: January 25, 1999; New Haven, CT  
Over his long career Robert Lawson Shaw became perhaps classical music's best-known choral conductor, and an important orchestral conductor as well. Born in 1916, Shaw was the son of a clergyman, and his mother sang in church choirs. As a young man he filled in as a choir leader on occasion, but did not plan a musical career, studying philosophy and comparative religion at Pomona College in suburban Los Angeles. During his freshman year, the Read more leader of the college glee club fell ill, and he was asked by other members to substitute. After he had been at the helm for a time, a film happened to be shot on campus, and Fred Waring, the well-known pop choral director, was in the cast. Hearing Shaw's glee club, he offered him a job, and Shaw accepted after he graduated.

Shaw founded his own pop group, the Collegiate Chorale, but soon began adding classical music to its repertoire. Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky heard Shaw and, despite Shaw's relative inexperience, hired him to prepare his choirs. Then the great Arturo Toscanini invited Shaw and the Collegiate Chorale to join his NBC Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. The results made Shaw's reputation.

Shaw then founded the 42-voice Robert Shaw Chorale, perhaps the first full-time professional choir in the U.S. unconnected with a religious institution. Meanwhile he studied music theory, piano, and conducting technique. For eighteen years the Chorale toured incessantly and made many successful recordings, including some well-loved arrangements of Christmas favorites.

In 1953 he accepted a position conducting mainly light music with the San Diego Symphony. In 1956 George Szell invited Shaw to build a chorus to match the standards of his Cleveland Orchestra, rapidly on the rise. Shaw accepted the post, and in the process also took formal and informal lessons with Szell.

In 1966 the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra invited Shaw to become its next music director. During twenty years at its helm he built its quality and reputation to high international levels. When he took over in 1967, Atlanta was still essentially a segregated city. In his first year, Shaw established a week-long residency for the orchestra at Spelman College, one of Atlanta's historically black colleges. He also frequently conducted in the city's churches, black and white. In 1972 he gave the world premiere of Scott Joplin's opera, Treemonisha.

When Shaw's first five-year contract was up, the orchestra board voted not to renew his appointment because of the large quantity of twentieth century music he played, citing poor ticket sales. Within two weeks, however, 3,500 new subscribers sent in season-ticket checks, all bearing the notation that they were contingent on Shaw remaining the conductor.

Shaw was an extremely tough conductor. He raged, especially at the chorus members. He posted a formal letter after every choral rehearsal, chiding the singers and exhorting them onward. Koussevitzky once said he was "amazed that any group of adults would willingly endure such tyrannical treatment from a conductor." Shaw and the orchestra recorded for the Telarc label. He retired from the Atlanta podium in 1988 and was proclaimed conductor laureate, continuing to conduct regularly. He also made numerous guest appearances as a conductor, appearing in his signature midnight blue rather than black tails. Shaw spent four months a year in the village of Dordogne, France, where he conducted the Robert Shaw Institute and festival, sponsored by The Ohio State University.

Shaw died in 1999 of a massive stroke suffered while he attended a play directed by his youngest son. During his career he won thirteen Grammy awards and the 1991 Kennedy Center Honors. Read less

There are 102 Robert Shaw recordings available.

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Composers

Formats & Featured

Biography

Born: April 30, 1916; Red Bluff, CA   Died: January 25, 1999; New Haven, CT  
Over his long career Robert Lawson Shaw became perhaps classical music's best-known choral conductor, and an important orchestral conductor as well. Born in 1916, Shaw was the son of a clergyman, and his mother sang in church choirs. As a young man he filled in as a choir leader on occasion, but did not plan a musical career, studying philosophy and comparative religion at Pomona College in suburban Los Angeles. During his freshman year, the Read more
WORKS ALBUMS
TITLE/COMPOSER
LABEL
Part the First: No. 1 Sinfonia (Overture)
Part the First: No. 2 Recitative: Comfort ye my people
Part the First: No. 3 Air: Every valley shall be exalted
Part the First: No.4 Chorus: And the glory of the Lord
Part the First: No. 5 Recitative: Thus saith the Lord
Part the First: No. 6 Air: But who may abide the day of His coming?
Part the First: No. 7 Chorus: And He shall purify
Part the First: No. 8 Recitative: Behold, a virgin shall conceive
Part the First: No. 9 Air: O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion
Part the First: No. 10 Recitative: For behold, darkness shall cover the earth
Part the First: No. 11 Air: The people that walked in darkness
Part the First: No. 12 Chorus: For unto us a child is born
Part the First: No. 13 Pifa (Pastoral Symphony)
Part the First: No. 14a Recitative: There were shepherds abiding in the field; No. 14b And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them
Part the First: No. 15 Recitative: And the angel said unto them
Part the First: No. 16 Recitative: And suddenly there was with the angel
Part the First: No. 17 Chorus: Glory to God
Part the First: No. 18 Air: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion
Part the First: No. 19 Recitative: Then shall the eyes of the blind
Part the First: No. 20 Air: He shall feed His flock; Air: Come unto Him
Part the First: No. 21 Chorus: His yoke is easy, and His burthen is light
Part the Second: No. 22 Chorus: Behold the Lamb of God
Part the Second: No. 23 Air: He was despised
Messiah: Part the Second: No. 24 Chorus: Surely He hath borne our griefs
Part the Second: No. 25 Chorus: And with His stripes we are healed
Part the Second: No. 26 Chorus: All we like sheep have gone astry
Part the Second: No. 27 Recitative: All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn
Part the Second: No. 28 Chorus: He trusted in God
Part the Second: No. 29 Recitative: Thy rebuke hath broken His heart
Part the Second: No. 30 Air: Behold, and see if there be any sorrow
Part the Second: No. 31 Recitative: He was cut off out of the land of the living
Part the Second: No. 32 Air: But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell
Part the Second: No. 33 Chorus: Lift up your head, O ye gates
Part the Second: No. 34 Recitative: Unto which of the angels said He at any time
Part the Second: No.35 Chorus: Let all the angels of God worship Him
Part the Second: No. 36 Air: Thou art gone up on high
Part the Second: No. 37 Chorus: The Lord gave the word
Part the Second: No. 38 Air: How beautiful are the feet
Part the Second: No. 39 Chorus: Their sound is gone out
Part the Second: No. 40 Air: Why do the nations so furiously rage together?
Part the Second: No. 41 Chorus: Let us break their bonds asunder
Part the Second: No. 42 Recitative: He that dwelleth in Heaven
Part the Second: No. 43 Air: Thou shalt break them
Part the Second: No. 44 Chorus: Hallelujah
Part the Third: No. 45 Air: I know that my Redeemer liveth
Part the Third: No. 46 Chorus: Since by man came death
Part the Third: No. 47 Recitative: Behold, I tell you a mystery
Part the Third: No. 48 Air: The trumpet shall sound
Part the Third: No. 49 Recitative: Then shall be brought to pass
Part the Third: No. 50 Duet: O death, where is thy sting?
Part the Third: No. 51 Chorus: But thanks be to God
Part the Third: No. 52 Air: If God be for us
Part the Third: No. 53 Chorus: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
Kyrie: Kyrie eleison (Chorus)
Kyrie: Christe eleison (Duet)
Kyrie: Kyrie eleison (Chorus)
Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo... (Chorus)
Gloria: ...et in terra pax
Gloria: Laudemus te (Aria)
Gloria: Gratias agimus tibi propter (Chorus)
Gloria: Domine Deus (Duet)
Gloria: Qui tollis peccata mundi (Chorus)
Gloria: Qui sedes ad dextram Patris (Aria)
Gloria: Quoniam tu solus sanctus (Aria)
Gloria: Cum sancto Spiritu in gloria (Chorus)
Mass in B Minor, BWV 232: Credo: Credo in unum Deum (Chorus)
Credo: Patrem omnipotentum (Chorus)
Credo: Et in unum Dominum (Duet)
Credo: Et incarnatus est (Chorus)
Credo: Crucifixus (Chorus)
Credo: Et resurrexit (Chorus)
Credo: Et in Spiritum sanctum (Aria)
Credo: Confiteor unum baptisma... (Chorus)
Credo: ...Et expecto
Sanctus: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus (Chorus)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Osanna in excelsis (Chorus)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Benedictus (Aria)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Osanna in excelsis (da capo) (Chorus)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Agnus Dei (Aria)
Osanna, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Dona Nobis Pacem: Dona nobis pacem (Chorus)
I. Mato Grosso
II. The Lake
III. The Dam
IV. To the Sea
O Death, Where Is They Sting? But Thanks Be To God
O Death, Where Is They Sting? But Thanks Be To God
Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain
Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain
Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
Molto vivace
Adagio molto e cantabile; Andante moderato
Presto; Allegro assai


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