Skip to main content

COVID-19 Update

Read the Library Reopening FAQ and other COVID-19 updates. Library staff are providing online services and support.

Series I: Music, 1879-1998

Call Number: MSS 86, Series I

Scope and Contents

More than half of the Robert Shaw Papers consists of annotated musical scores. Most major works appear in multiple versions. When Shaw returned to a piece he had performed earlier in his career, instead of using his old score, he usually obtained a clean score and marked it up from scratch. Shaw annotated his scores in exhaustive detail, using pencils in several colors, and sometimes Post-It notes as well. These scores are a unique window into Shaw's musical thinking, and they also tell us about more practical aspects of his conducting, such as his instrumental cues, and his instructions to the chorus to stand or sit. Certain scores include information about specific performances, such as dates, performers, places, and sometimes even timings.

Shaw usually worked from published editions, but a few manuscripts or manuscript copies also appear. Although this series consists chiefly of scores, it also includes parts for certain works.

Many works for chorus and orchestra are represented by both a full score and a piano-vocal score. When Shaw guest-conducted such works, his assistant often planned for the event by lending an annotated piano-vocal score to the chorus be would be conducting, with the instructions that Shaw's markings should be copied into the singers' own scores.

Shaw was not solely a conductor. He was a prolific choral arranger (usually in collaboration with Alice Parker), and these works also appear in this series, as do the arrangements that Robert Russell Bennett created for the Robert Shaw Chorale.


  • 1879-1998

Language of Materials

From the Collection: In English.

Conditions Governing Access

From the Collection: This collection is open for research. Streaming access to sound recordings in this collection is available when connected to the Yale network, or otherwise by request.


Part of the Yale University Music Library Repository

120 High Street
PO Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520 US
(203) 432-0497

Opening Hours