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Deep River

The Life and Music of Robert Shaw

By Keith Burris

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The Life and Music of Robert Shaw. Composed by Keith Burris. Music Education. Book. 631 pages. GIA Publications #7814. Published by GIA Publications (GI.G-7814).

Item Number: GI.G-7814

ISBN 9781579999759. English.

Robert Lawson Shaw was born in Red Bluff, California on April 30, 1916 - another century, another America. By the time he died, 82 years later, Shaw had become one of America's classical music icons - a key figure who helped create a culture of classical music in the United States.

When Shaw was a boy, there scarcely was such a culture outside of New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Yale University, and a few other places. And a classical choral tradition? It existed, but its existence was neither broad nor deep.

More than any other single person, Shaw was responsible for this change. He was the principle re-inventor of the choral art in America. Shaw did not transform choral music from a hobby or an academic pursuit all alone. But Shaw made choral music important, artistic, and popular.

Shaw is part of an American mythic tradition that encompasses Jay Gatsby, Leonard Bernstein, "American Idol," and Barack Obama. Shaw was his own mold, an American prototype - like Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mohammad Ali, Ernest Hemingway, or Clint Eastwood.

Deep River is a rich and in-depth biography of this complex man and his relentless drive to transform American choral singing.

Keith C. Burris is associate editor of The Blade in Toledo, Ohio. He was, for many years, editorial page editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut. He has written widely on politics, government, culture, and the arts for publications ranging from Commonweal, to The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. He holds a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and has taught at a number of American colleges and universities. He and his wife Amy, an artist, have three grown children, Alexander, Sophia, and William.

The enclosed DVD features Robert Shaw in rehearsal at Boston University.

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