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Don Shirley

Pianist, composer, and arranger Don Shirley was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on January 29, 1927. He began playing piano at age two and seven years later had developed his skills so rapidly, he was studying theory at the prestigious Leningrad Conservatory of Music. Shirley made his concert debut with the Boston Pops in 1945, while the following year the London Philharmonic Orchestra performed one of his first major compositions. In the ensuing years between 1954 and 1968, Shirley performed as a soloist and as a member of several symphonies, including the Boston Pops, Detroit Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington. Shirley also composed several organ symphonies, a piano concerto, two string quartets, and numerous pieces for piano. His musical language also encompassed tastefully mastered combinations of standards, show tunes, ballads, spirituals, and jazz performed with his own trio. Incredibly, Shirley also found time between performing and recording to obtain a doctorate of Music, Psychology, and Liturgical Arts. Throughout the '50s and '60s, Shirley released numerous albums on the Cadence label. In 1999, Collectables began reissuing several of those albums as two-for-one sets. ~ Al Campbell, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

nycmusicus
I turn to the unparalleled beauty that is the music of Don Shirley when I wish to be taken away to a place where I haven't a care in the world. Dr. Shirley's music always delivers. It reveals the heart of a very special person, in my humble opinion. May he rest in peace and his family always know how much he gave to the world through his music...and in other ways, I must assume.
ptknapp28
My most memorable musical experience was spending an entire evening listening to you and Marian McPartland at the Hickory House. My second most memorable was when you appeared with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. I bought all your records.
RIP Don, your work lives on for others to enjoy your artistry.
mixtere1
His playing is so very lovely and tender to me. Thank you Don for sharing your wonderful gift.
My husband and I (before we were married)spen t many delightful evenings at the Hickory House listening to Don Shirley in the mid 50's. His CD's are lovely companions on long trips.
trhoades33
Duke Ellington used to go to the Hickory House in NYC to hear him. You can't say much more.
I agree. He truly plays Jazz with 2 hands. He is an amazing musician and pianist.
awesome
jpmcguire00
The "similar artists" are all great pianists, but there is only ONE Don Shirley. Having been caught in the death of Cadence Records and the issues with he who bought the rights to their music, he was virtually unheard for almost 30 years. I pine for those musicians who might have benefited from his talent but couldn't access it. A true artist.
welch_w
He comes as close as any pianist I know who can be described as unique, and defies being caterogized in any one box.

Wayne W., Savannah, GA
dblair10435
PLAY THE SONG BY DON SHIRLEY, DROWN IN MY OWN TEARS

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