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Don Shirley -- Pianist Extraordinary

A Letter from Don Shirley and an Announcement.



June 27, 2000 New York,

A Note to my Listeners

Over the last several months, many of you have made the effort to tell me how much you have enjoyed my music. Reading your beautiful e-mails, I have at times been completely overwhelmed. Your messages, often very personal accounts of how you came about Don Shirley, are having a great effect on me. I cannot begin to describe the emotions your sentiments have caused. They range from sheer joy to embarrassment, but there is also a feeling of vindication. My music has always been hard to place because it does not adhere to any particular style or school. It reflects, however, the discipline of musical structure distilled from the ages imposed on my own emotions, but also my attempt to channel what you yourself have known all along. Perhaps that is why your stories are so heartfelt.

I have responded to some of your e-mails and letters. Those of you I didn't address individually, please accept my apologies--I don't like to write, I am not good at it, and often cannot find the right words to compose the answers you deserve.

At any rate, thanks to you I feel like a new person! I have decided to record again--I recently completed a two-day session at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York--and I am looking at the possibilities of appearing in concert. My health and energy are perfect, and my poor old beat-up Steinway makes me work even harder to create the sound I want--a novel way of conditioning. Look for a new CD later this summer on my own DonShirley.com (under construction), on Amazon, and perhaps in stores pending distribution I am arranging.

With best regards,

Donald Shirley



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DON SHIRLEY--BIOGRAPHY

Here is some biographical information gleaned from record jackets....

Don Walbridge Shirley was born January 29, l927 in Kingston, Jamaica. His first teacher washis mother. He began playing piano at age of 2 1/2 and made his first public performance at the age of 3. At the age of nine he was invited to study theory with Mittolovski at the Leningrad Conservatory of Music, and he later studied with famous organist Conrad Bernier and studied advanced composition with both Bernier and Dr.Thaddeus Jones at Catholic University of America in Washington D. C.

He made his concert debut at the age of 18 with the Boston Pops June 25, l945 with Dean Dixon as guest conductor playing the Tchaikovsky B-flat minor concerto. In l946 his first major composition was performed by the London Philharmonic orchestra.

In l949 he received an invitation from the Haitian government to play at the Exposition International du Bi-Centenaire De Port-au-Prince followed by a request from Archbishop Le Goise and President Estime for a repeat performance the following week.

At Arthur Fiedler's invitation he appeared with the Boston Pops in Chicago in June 1954. He performed the Tchaikovsky in the fall of 1968 with the Detroit Symphony. He has appeared as soloist with the Detroit Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the NBC Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington to name only a few. Including his appearances with the trio, he averaged some 95 concerts a year.

He has written symphonies performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, and has composed four organ symphonies, numerous pieces for piano, two string quartets, and a piano concerto. He played as soloist with the orchestra at Milan's La Scala opera house in a program dedicated to Gershwin's music. Only two other pianists have performed there as soloists--Rubinstein and Richter.

He holds a Doctorate of Music, Doctorate of Psychology (Univ. of Chicago, Phi Beta Kappa), and Doctorate in Liturgical Arts. He speaks eight languages fluently, and is considered an expert painter as well.

He abandoned the piano as a career while quite young, and it was while in Chicago as a psychologist that Don "tripped" back into a musical career. He was given a grant to study the relationship, if any, between music and juvenile crime wave which had suddenly broken out in the early l950's. Working in a small club there, he used his knowledge and skill to perform experiments in sound, whereby he proved that certain tonal combinations affected the audience's reactions. No one in the audience knew of his experiment, or that students had been planted among them to gauge their reactions. But Don Shirley the pianist became a sensation.

It is impossible to categorize Don Shirley's music. It is possible to say that as an arranger-composer he treats each piece of music as a new composition, not just an arrangement. Don plays Standards in a non-standard way. He is a virtuoso, playing everything from show tunes, to ballads, to his personal arrangements of Negro spirituals to jazz, and always with the overtone of a classically trained musician who has utmost respect for the music he is playing.

His rendition of Cole Porter's "Love For Sale" is the most sensitive production of that poignant song, as well as the most exciting that I have ever heard. The key to the reason why Don is such an exciting player is that he plays to a sense of truth about each song he does; he goes right to the heart of the song and the listener immediately reacts, saying to himself, "Yes, that is the way that song should be played.!" His sense of shading, phrasing, and balance with his piano is equal to the sense that Billie Holiday is renowned for with her voice. Igor Stravinsky has said of him, "His virtuosity is worthy of Gods."

Appearances in New York followed, notably at the Basin Street, where Duke Ellington first heard him. Here started their warm friendship which was highlighted by Don's performance in l955 of the premiere of Duke's Piano Concerto at Carnegie Hall with the NBC Symphony of the Air. An appearance on the Arthur Godfrey Show launched his career nationwide.

He has composed 3 symphonies, two piano concerti, a cello concerto, three string quartets, a one-act opera, works for organ, piano and violin, a symphonic tone poem based on "Finnegan's Wake" and a set of "Variations" on the legend of Orpheus in the Underworld.

Today he is alive and well and performing in New York. He presently has 11 CDs. During the 1950s and 60s he cut some 16 albums for Cadence records. A nearly complete Discography appears below. If you know of any other recordings please e-mail us so we can add them to the list. There are no classsical recordings.


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DON SHIRLEY DISCOGRAPHY

Cadence CLP1001 Donald Shirley (Pianist) Tonal Expressions
Cadence CLP1004 Donald Shirley (Pianist) Piano Perspectives
Cadence CLP1009 Don Shirley Orpheus in the Underworld
Cadence CLP1015 Don Shirley Duo Improvisations
Cadence CLP3007 Don Shirley Solos
Cadence CLP3008 Don Shirley (with two basses)
Cadence CLP3032 Don Shirley Plays Gershwin
Cadence CLP3033 Don Shirley (Pianist) Standards
Cadence CLP3034 Don Shirley (Pianist) Love Songs
Cadence CLP3035 Don Shirley Plays Birdland Lullabies
Cadence CLP3036 Don Shirley (Pianist) Showtunes
Cadence CLP3037 Don Shirley (Pianist) Plays Shirley
Cadence CLP3046 Don Shirley Trio (1961) (Stereo CLP 25046)
Cadence CLP3048 Don Shirley Pianist Extraordinary (1962) (Stereo CLP 25048)
Cadence CLP3049 Don Shirley Piano Spirituals (1962) (Stereo CLP 25049)
Cadence CLP3055 Don Shirley Presents Martha Flowers(1962)(Stereo CLP 25055)
Cadence CLP3057 Don Shirley Drown In My Own Tears (1962)(Stereo CLP 25057)

45 RPM RECORDS
Cadence CEP 501 Don Shirley (Pianist) TONAL EXPRESSIONS Vol. 1
Cadence CEP 502 Don Shirley (Pianist) TONAL EXPRESSIONS Vol. 2
Cadence CEP 503 Don Shirley (Pianist) PIANO PERSPECTIVES Vol. 1

OTHER LABELS.
Audio Fidelity AFSD5897/CLP1897 Don Shirley (1959)
Atlantic SD1605 Don Shirley Point of View
Columbia CS9684 Don Shirley Trio in Concert (1968)
Columbia CS9196 Don Shirley Trio - Water Boy (Mono CL9196)
Columbia CS9723 Gospel According to Don Shirley (1969)

PiccADilly
3428 Don Shirley Concert Series, Vol. 1
3320 Don Shirley Concert Series, Vol. 2
3363 Don Shirley Concert Series, Vol. 3
3393 Don Shirley Concert Series, Vol. 4
3427 Don Shirley Concert Series, Vol. 5
3435 Don Shirley Concert Series, Vol. 6
3396 Don Shirley Concert Series, Vol. 7


COMPACT DISCS.
GOLDEN CLASSICS COL-5746 issued in 1997.
Don Shirley Drown In My Own Tears CLP25057
Plus 5 additional songs.

THE TEN NEW DON SHIRLEY CDs.


In December 1999 GOLDEN CLASSICS CDs issued ten new CDs. These ten CDs are the full length original versions from 10 DON SHIRLEY Cadence LPs. Packaged 2 CDs per Set.
GOLDEN CLASSICS COL2755
Don Shirley: Tonal ExpressionsCLP1001
Don Shirley: Piano PerspectivesCLP1004
GOLDEN CLASSICS COL2756
Don Shirley: Orpheus In UnderworldCLP1009
Don Shirley: ImprovisationsCLP1015
GOLDEN CLASSICS COL2757
Don Shirley: SolosCLP3007
Don Shirley: With Two BassesCLP3008
GOLDEN CLASSICS COL2758
Don Shirley: Plays Love SongsCLP3034
Don Shirley: TrioCLP25046
GOLDEN CLASSICS COL2759
Don Shirley: Pianist ExtraordinaryCLP25048
Don Shirley: Famous SpirtualsCLP25049
GOLDEN CLASSICS COL5746
Don Shirley: Drown In My Own TearsCLP25057
Plus 5 additional Songs

As you can see there are two albums in each set for maximum value!

(E-mail Jim S and I will send you the complete song list.)




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BUY THESE CDs FROM DON SHIRLEY .

Dr Shirley is very much alive and very well. Lives in New York, and has been thrilled and even stunned to learn that his fans remember his music. From the e-mails we receive we know you will want to replace your old worn out LPs with the new CDs and enjoy again the music of this extraordinary musician.

Because Dr. Shirley receives almost no royalties (about $0.30) from the reissued CDs sold through commercial channels, we thought it would be a nice gesture if we all were to buy these CDs through WALBRIDGE MUSIC CO. That way profits from these sales will go directly to Dr. Shirley instead of a store. How much would you have to pay for 2 tickets to a Don Shirley concert right in your own home?

You could order these from regular dealers priced at $12.99, but we urge you to use the $16.97 list price, or $75.00 for 5 CD sets.(Buy the 6th CD at the same $15.00 price) And, if you request it, we will send you an 8 x 10 enlargement of Dr. Shirley at his favorite Steinway and signed by him.

Please add for shipping: Up to 3 sets $3.20, $1.00 for each additional set. Checks are OK. That's $78.20 for all 5 sets. New York residents add sales tax. Unfortunately we cannot process Credit Cards at this time. Make Checks payable to WALBRIDGE MUSIC CO. Send checks and orders by regular mail to:

WALBRIDGE MUSIC CO. CARNEGIE HALL, STUDIO 130 154 W. 57th ST. NEW YORK, NY 10019-8821


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YOU CAN SEND A NOTE TO DR. SHIRLEY.

Dr. Shirley now has an e-mail address. Send him a note of appreciation with perhaps a short account of how you came to know his music. I know he would love to hear from you all. Write him at: (DonShirleyTrio@netscape.net)

Please e-mail all your friends and ask them to contact us so we can keep in touch with them for IMPORTANT later news. Even if they didn't buy their CDs from us.

This is a voluntary promotion by two Don Shirley Fans
Michael Kappeyne See e-mail Address Below.
Jim Sommerville See e-mail Address Below.


USED RECORDINGS

The other recordings are only available on the used market.
From time to time we are offered recordings. Please e-mail for listing.

There are some additional singles such as "Waterboy".
There are no classical recordings. (DS) Please help us fill in the missing recordings. If you have any information or recordings not on our list or if you have any questions please e-mail us. We are searching for any Don Shirley sheet music or manuscripts you may find to replace those lost in a water overflow at his studio.


CONCERT SCHEDULE:


THERE ARE NO CONCERTS SCHEDULED


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LINKS OF INTEREST TO DON SHIRLEY FANS

See these other links for more information about DON SHIRLEY and Cadence records:


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Rev. 8-29-2000 DS-38-11.