David Shire

born on 3/7/1937 in Buffalo, NY, United States

David Shire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
David Shire
Birth name David Lee Shire
Born July 3 1937
Buffalo, New York
Genres Film score
Television score
Occupations Composer
Instruments Piano
Years active 1960s - present

David Lee Shire (born July 3, 1937) is an American songwriter and the composer of stage musicals and film and television scores.

Education and early career

Shire was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Esther Miriam (née Sheinberg) and Buffalo society band leader and piano teacher Irving Daniel Shire.[1] 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.

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 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, Return to Oz, 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 Gimble's theme song for Norma Rae, "It Goes Like It Goes". He was also nominated the same year in the same category for "The Promise (I'll Never Say Goodbye)" from the motion picture The Promise, with lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman. In 1981 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 Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Shire used serial techniques and a funky multicultural rhythm section for the main theme. It is intended to evoke the bustle and diversity of 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 received two Grammy nominations for his work on the film.

Shire's television scores have earned five Emmy nominations.[2] His hundreds of scores for television include Sarah, Plain and Tall, Raid on Entebbe, The Kennedys of Massachusetts, Serving in Silence, 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.

Musical theatre

As a pit pianist, Shire played for the original productions of both The Fantasticks and Funny Girl, eventually serving as Barbra Streisands 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 reviews 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.[3][4]

He recently completed A Stream of Voices, a one-act opera, with libretto by Gene Scheer, for the Colorado Children's Chorale, which is scheduled to premiere in June 2008 in Denver.[5][6]


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)[7] 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.

He serves on the council of the Dramatists Guild of America [8] and is a Trustee of the Rockland Conservatory of Music and the Palisades (New York) Library.


Shire has been married to actress Didi Conn since 1982; they have a son named Daniel who has been diagnosed with autism.[9] He also has a son, screenwriter Matthew Shire, with ex-wife Talia Shire.

Theatre credits

  • 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)[10]
  • 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)
  • Smulnik's Waltz (1991)
  • The Loman Family Picnic (1993)
  • Visiting Mr. Green (1997)

Notable songs

  • "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 - recorded by Barbra Streisand
  • "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

See also

  • Coppola family tree


  1. David Shire Biography (1937-)
  2. IMDB awards
  3. playbill.com article, July 13, 2007
  4. film score monthly interview, June 2004
  5. Rocky Mountain News, July 28, 2007
  6. ticketmaster description of A Stream of Voices
  7. Buffalo Philharmonic announcement
  8. Dramatists Guild
  9. I was the "Queen of Denial" about Autism CNN, April 1, 2009
  10. Lortel listing

External links

  • 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

This page was last modified 16.06.2010 02:07:56

This article uses material from the article David Shire from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.