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2006 BUFFALO MUSIC HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
 

David Lee Shire

BMHOF Class of 2006

 

David Shire (born July 3, 1937 in Buffalo, New York) is an American composer of stage musicals, both Broadway and off-Broadway, and film and television scores.


Shire is the son of Buffalo society band leader and piano teacher Irving Shire. At Yale, he met his long-time theater collaborator lyricist/director Richard Maltby, Jr., also the son of a band leader, and while at Yale the two of them wrote two musicals which were produced by the Yale Dramat, Cyrano and Grand Tour. Shire also co-fronted a jazz group at Yale, 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 6 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 1960 at the Sheridan Square Theater.


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 in 1974. creating perhaps his best known score. He has since been known for creating interesting and effective scores for a wide variety of genres, including All the President's Men, The Hindenburg, Farewell My Lovely, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, and Return to Oz. He composed original music for Saturday Night Fever, and also worked on several disco adaptations including "Night on Disco Mountain." He won an Oscar in 1980 for Best Song for his title 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. 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, with a catchy bluesy main theme. On some cues Shire took the taped sounds of the piano and distorted them in different ways to create alternative tonalities 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.


The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is one of Shire's most effective scores. Shire composed a tone row and placed it against a funky beat for his 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 musical theatre work includes the two off-Broadway reviews "Starting Here, Starting Now" (Grammy nomination for 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.


Shire's television scores have earned six Emmy nominations. He has scored over a hundred television movies, including "Sarah Plain and Tall", "Raid on Entebbe", "The Kennedys of Massachusetts", "Serving in Silence" and "The Heidi Chronicles".


Shire's individual songs have been recorded by Barbara Streisand, Melissa Manchester, Maureen McGovern, Johnny Mathis, Billy Preston, Jennifer Warnes, John Pizzerelli and Pearl Bailey, among many others.


Shire has been married to actress Didi Conn since 1982. He has two sons, Matthew (with Talia Shire), a Los Angeles screenwriter, and Daniel (with Didi Conn).

 

Work on Broadway
The Unknown Soldier and His Wife (1967) - play - incidental music composer
"Anyone Can Whistle" ( ) - musical by Stephen Sondheim - rehearsal pianist
"Funny Girl" ( ) - musical - pit pianist and assistant conductor
"Love Match" (1969) - musical composer - closed out-of town after a tryout at the Amhanson Theater in Los Angles
Baby (1983) - musical - composer - Tony Nomination for Best Original Score
Company (1995 revival) - musical - dance music arranger
Big (1996) - musical - composer - Tony Nomination for Best Original Score, Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Music
Saturday Night Fever (1999) - musical - featured songwriter for "Manhattan Skyline", "Salsation" and "Night on Disco Mountain"

Work off-Broadway
"Starting Here, Starting Now" (1975) - musical revue composer
"Urban Blight" ( ) - musical revue composer
"Closer Than Ever" ( ) - musical revue composer
"The Loman Family Picnic" ( ) - play incidental music and songs (with lyrics by the playwright Donald Margulis) for the Margulis play
"Smulnik's Waltz" ( ) - play - incidental music composer

Individual songs include
"With You I'm Born Again" ( ) - lyrics by Carol Connors - international chart hit by Billy Preston and Syreeta
"Starting Here, Starting Now" ( ) - lyrics by Richard Maltby - recorded by Barbara Streisand
"What About Today" ( ) lyrics by Shire - Title song of Barbara Streisand album
"The Morning After" ( ) - lyrics by Shire - recorded by Barbara Streisand
"I'll Never Say Goodbye" ( ) - lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman - recorded by Melissa Manchester
"Autumn" ( ) - lyrics by Maltby - recorded by Barbara Streisand
"It Goes Like It Goes" ( ) - lyrics by Norman Gimbel - recorded by Jennifer Warndes (Acad. Award winner)
"The Promise (I'll Never Say Goodbye" ( ) - lyric by Marilyn and Alan Bergman - recorded by Melissa Manchester, Nancy Lamott (Acad. Award nominee)
"Coffee, Black (2006) - lyrics by Maltby - recorded by John Pizzerelli

 

 

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