Shaw, Oliver

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Shaw, Oliver

Shaw, Oliver, blind American organist, tenor, teacher, and composer; b. Middleboro, Mass., March 13, 1779; d. Providence, R.I., Dec. 31, 1848. He lost his eyesight in an accident. About 1800 he began taking music lessons with John Berkenhead, Gottlieb Graupner, and Thomas Granger. After teaching piano and organ in Dedham, Mass. (1805–07), he settled in Providence. He was organist at the First Congregational Church (1809–32), and a founder of the Psallonian Society in 1809, remaining its director until it was disbanded in 1833. He was a composer of popular psalm tunes and ballads, including Mary’s Tears, The Inspiration, Sweet Little Ann, and The Death of Perry. He publ, the manuals A Plain Introduction to the Art of Playing the Pianoforte (1811) and O. Shaw’s Instructions for the Pianoforte (1831).


T. Williams, A Discourse on the Life and Death of O. S.(Boston, 1851); F. Denison, A. Stanley, and E. Glezen, eds., Memorial of O. S.(Providence, R.I., 1884); B. Degen, O. S.: His Music and Contribution to American Society (diss., Univ. of Rochester, 1971).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire