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Born in 1916
Inducted in 1998
Robert Shaw's original career plan was to follow his father and grandfather into the ministry. During his student days at Pomona College (1934-38) he conducted the college glee club and was heard by Fred Waring who asked him to come to New York to organize the Fred Waring Glee Club. Shaw did, in 1938, and continued as director till 1945. In 1941, while still directing the Waring Glee Club, Shaw formed the Collegiate Chorale, which he was to direct till 1954. In 1944 he became the first conductor to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, which he used for a year's study with Julius Herford. As director of the Collegiate Chorale Shaw commissioned several works, including Hindemith's When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, and in 1945 the Collegiate Chorale was engaged to perform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Shaw made his debut as a symphonic conductor with the Naumburg Orchestra in New York in 1946, and in the summer of that year he conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra. William Schuman selected Shaw to be director of choral music at the Juilliard School, where he taught from 1946 to 1948. He made his debut as a symphonic conductor with the Naumburg Orchestra in New York in 1946, and in the summer of that year he conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He served as music director of the San Diego Symphony in the years 1953-58, and from 1956 to 1967 was associate conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, for whom he organized the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. In 1956 he also served as codirector of the Alaska Festival, with which he remained active till 1975. Shaw became music director of the Atlanta Symphony in 1967 and proceeded to build the orchestra into a major entity in American music, with, of course, a splendid chorus of its own. Shaw's recordings have brought him a total of 14 Grammy Awards and numerous other forms of recognition. In 1977 the French government named him an Officier des Arts et des Lettres; among his other honors in our own country are the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Artistic Achievement, the George Peabody Medal, the National Medal of Arts, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the Conductors' Guild's Theodore Thomas Award.