About the Music

Up until now, it was possible to hear only two selections of Juliet Shaw playing her theremin. They were Francis Jean Michel Poulenc’s “C,” and George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” Unfortunately these two recording’s are even more difficult to find than it was to find any mention of Juliet Shaw herself (see Finding Juliet Shaw). Recorded in the early 1970s, when Juliet was somewhere between sixty-nine and seventy-one years of age, they are a testament to her sensitivity, expressiveness, and musicianship.

The earliest recordings, made from the late 1930s to mid-1950s, are on vinyl. There are sixteen vinyl discs in the collection. CLICK HERE FOR MODERE to listen to the only existing recording of Juliet playing Nadia Boulanger’s 1914 composition, Modéré.

Recordings made from the late 1950s through the 1980s were made on over three dozen reel-to-reel tapes. Later still, recordings were either transferred from reel-to-reel or recorded directly on twenty-four audio cassette tapes. There are recordings of entire full-length concerts as well as individually recorded selections. Apart from the sheer volume of Juliet’s recorded performances, there are hours of recordings made by every member of the Shaw family, and you can sample some of them by CLICKING HERE FOR: MUSICAL FAMILY, MUSICAL FRIENDS.

Juliet Shaw’s tastes in music were eclectic. While she appreciated Bach, Mozart and others, her own preferences leaned toward contemporary and experimental compositions, including electronic music. A fan of Joseph Schillinger, on several occasions, she herself performed his First Airphonic Suite for Theremin and Orchestra with the Civic Orchestra of New Haven. She was also known as “the pianist who plays with her elbows,” a distinction born of her performances of compositions by composer, Henry Cowell.

Another important aspect of Juliet Shaw’s dedication to music was her passionate commitment to the propagation of Duo-Piano music – pieces written for two pianos. She wrote and lectured on the subject as well as playing piano. She was such a proponent of the genre that many of the resulting recordings were her own arrangements.

One of Shaw’s landmark musical achievements – showcased in a number of live recordings – was her role as director and arranger of her 12 Piano Symphony. As if Duo Piano performances weren’t unique enough, Juliet brought twelve accomplished pianists together onstage (all wearing elegant pink evening gowns) to perform a magnum opus of astonishing power.