April 30,1916 - January 25, 1999
Please feel free to share any remembrances of Mr. Shaw in the comments.
For twenty-one years Robert Shaw served at the artistic helm of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
When he arrived in Atlanta in August 1967, he found the ASO already in the midst of an effort to upgrade itself. Atlanta’s cultural leaders had long been working toward raising the Orchestra’s budget, extending the length of its season and building a permanent hall for its performances. They turned to Shaw because he was both a musician of international stature in both orchestral and choral realms and a rising conductor who could bring the ASO to prominence as his own reputation grew.
He came in like a whirlwind, presenting ambitious concerts of difficult music, speaking about Atlanta’s need for a conservatory of music, looking for black musicians to play in the all-white orchestra, successfully lobbying to have black members added to the ASO’s Board, and introducing the city to more contemporary music than it had ever heard before. Hard though he may have driven his players and singers, he pushed himself harder. His attention to detail and his capacity for endless hours of score study and preparation were phenomenal. Unlike most high-profile conductors, he had no other orchestra half a globe away, and he accepted few dates to conduct elsewhere. Shaw had come to Atlanta to be Music Director, and he considered it a full-time commitment.