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Shire in New York with pianist and composer Andrew Gerle and bassist Danny Weller, Sept. 20, 2013.
|Birth name||David Lee Shire|
July 3, 1937 |
Buffalo, New York
David Lee Shire (born July 3, 1937) is an American songwriter and composer of stage musicals, film and television scores. The soundtrack to the 1974 movie The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, the soundtrack for Francis Coppola's The Conversation, and parts of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack such as "Manhattan Skyline", are some of his best-known works. His other work includes the score of the 1985 film Return to Oz, the "sequel-in-part" of The Wizard of Oz, and the stage musical scores of Baby, Big, Closer Than Ever, and Starting Here, Starting Now. Shire is married to actress Didi Conn.
Education and early career
Shire was born in Buffalo, New York to Jewish Esther Miriam (née Sheinberg) and Buffalo society band leader and piano teacher Irving Daniel Shire. He met his long-time theater collaborator lyricist/director Richard Maltby, Jr. at Yale University, where they wrote two musicals, Cyrano and Grand Tour, which were produced by the Yale Dramatic Association. Shire also co-fronted a jazz group at school, the Shire-Fogg Quintet, and was a Phi Beta Kappa honors student, with a double major in English and music. He was a member of the Pundits and Elihu and he graduated magna cum laude in 1959.
After a semester of graduate work at Brandeis University (where he was the first Eddie Fisher Fellow) and six months in the National Guard infantry, Shire took up residence in New York City, working as a dance class pianist, theater rehearsal and pit pianist, and society band musician while constantly working with Maltby on musicals. Their first off-Broadway show, The Sap of Life, was produced in 1961 at One Sheridan Square Theater in Greenwich Village. He co-wrote The Village Stompers' "Washington Square" with Bob Goldstein in 1963.
Film and television scoring
Shire began scoring for television in the 1960s and made the leap to scoring feature films in the early 1970s. He was then married to actress Talia Shire, for whose brother Francis Ford Coppola he scored The Conversation, perhaps his best known score, in 1974. Additional screen credits include Two People, All The President's Men, The Hindenburg, Farewell My Lovely, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, 2010, The Big Bus, Return to Oz, Short Circuit, Max Dugan Returns, and Zodiac. He composed original music for Saturday Night Fever (for which he received two Grammy Award nominations), and also worked on several disco adaptations including "Night on Disco Mountain." He won the Academy Award for Best Song for his and Norman Gimbel's theme song for Norma Rae, "It Goes Like It Goes." He was also nominated the same year in the same category for "I'll Never Say Goodbye," from the motion picture The Promise, with lyrics jointly written by Marilyn and Alan Bergman. In 1980 his song "With You I'm Born Again," recorded by Billy Preston and Syreeta, was a top five international hit and stayed on the pop charts for 26 weeks.
The Conversation featured an austere score for piano. On some cues, Shire took the taped sounds of the piano and distorted them in different ways to create alternative sonic textures to round out the score. The music is intended to capture the isolation and paranoia of protagonist Harry Caul (Gene Hackman). The score was released on CD by Intrada Records.
For the "Main Title" of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Shire set a rock-solid jazz-funk groove in B-flat minor, and made the lead melodies and chords out of atonal twelve-tone rows, tightly packaged in short bursts of variously shaped motives. It successfully evokes the bustle and diversity of 1970s New York City, and is an unofficial theme for the 6 subway line (the local Lexington Avenue Line that is depicted in the film). The soundtrack album was the first-ever CD release by Film Score Monthly. The end titles contain a more expansive arrangement of the theme.
Shire's television scores have earned five Emmy nominations. His hundreds of scores for television include: Sarah, Plain and Tall; Raid on Entebbe; The Kennedys of Massachusetts; Serving In Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story; Christopher Reeve's Rear Window; Oprah Winfrey's The Women of Brewster Place; and The Heidi Chronicles. He also composed themes for the television series Alice and McCloud.
Shire's film and television scoring style is often compared to his late counterpart and contemporary, Jerry Fielding.
As a pit pianist, Shire played for the original productions of both The Fantasticks and Funny Girl, eventually serving as Barbra Streisand’s accompanist for several years. He also intermittently conducted and arranged for her (most notably for her television specials Color Me Barbra and The Belle of Fourteenth Street), and over a period of several years she recorded five of his songs.
Shire's musical theatre work, always in collaboration with lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr. includes the two off-Broadway revues Starting Here, Starting Now (Grammy nomination for Best Cast Album) and Closer Than Ever (Outer Critic's Circle Award for Best Musical) and the two Broadway shows Baby (Tony nominations for Best Musical and Best Score) and Big (Tony nomination for Best Score). All of these shows have had hundreds of regional and stock productions worldwide. A new musical entitled Take Flight premiered in London at the Menier Chocolate Factory in July 2007, with a separate production in Tokyo in November 2007. Previously concert versions were performed in Australia and Russia.
Shire's individual songs have been recorded by Barbra Streisand, Melissa Manchester, Maureen McGovern, Johnny Mathis, Billy Preston, Jennifer Warnes, John Pizzarelli and Pearl Bailey, among many others. He co-wrote with David Pomerantz "In Our Hands", the theme song for the United Nations World Summit for Children. He has also written individual songs with lyricists Sheldon Harnick ("Everlasting Light") and Ed Kleban.
Either for his film scores or for pop concerts of his music, he has conducted many orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (2007), the Irish Film Orchestra, and the Munich Symphony.
He also wrote and composed many songs for the hit PBS children's TV series Shining Time Station, which starred his wife Didi Conn along with actor Brian O'Connor and comedian George Carlin.
David Lee Shire was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
- The Unknown Soldier and His Wife - incidental music
- Anyone Can Whistle - rehearsal pianist
- Funny Girl - pit pianist and assistant conductor
- Love Match - composer
- Baby - composer - Tony Award for Best Original Score nomination
- Company - dance music arranger
- Big - composer - Tony Award for Best Original Score nomination; Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music nomination
- Saturday Night Fever - songwriter of "Manhattan Skyline," "Salsation," and "Night on Disco Mountain"
- Off-Broadway (selected)
- Graham Crackers (1963)
- As You Like It (1973)
- Starting Here, Starting Now (1977)
- Urban Blight (1988)
- Closer Than Ever (1989) (Outer Critics Circle Award winner); NYC revival (2012)
- Smulnik's Waltz (1991)
- The Loman Family Picnic (1993)
- Visiting Mr. Green (1997)
- "Take Flight" (2005-2011) (productions in London (Mernier Chocolate Factory), Tokyo, McCarter Theater (Princeton)
- "With You I'm Born Again" - lyrics by Carol Connors - international chart hit by Billy Preston and Syreeta
- "Starting Here, Starting Now;" "Autumn" - lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. - recorded by Barbra Streisand
- "One Of The Good Girls" - lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. - recorded by Susannah McCorkle.
- "Stop, Time" - lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. - recorded by Susannah McCorkle.
- "What About Today," "The Morning After" - music and lyrics - recorded by Streisand
- "The Promise (I'll Never Say Goodbye)" (Academy Award nominee) - lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman - recorded by Melissa Manchester
- "It Goes Like It Goes" - lyrics by Norman Gimbel - recorded by Jennifer Warnes - (Academy Award winner)
- "Coffee, Black" - lyrics by Maltby - recorded by John Pizzarelli
- "Washington Square" - words and music (with Bob Goldstein) - recorded by The Village Stompers
- David Shire Biography (1937-)
- IMDB awards
- playbill.com article, July 13, 2007
- film score monthly interview, June 2004
- Rocky Mountain News, July 28, 2007
- ticketmaster description of A Stream of Voices
- the Silent Tears website
- Buffalo Philharmonic announcement
- Dramatists Guild
- I was the "Queen of Denial" about Autism CNN, April 1, 2009
- Lortel listing
- Personal Website
- David Shire at the Internet Broadway Database
- David Shire at the Internet Movie Database
- Board of Advisors, The Buffalo Film Festival, Buffalo, NY, United States