> contact us > mailing list
> employment > our history
> privacy policy > returns policy
Home > Composers > Composer Gallery > Composer Information
site search
RALPH SHAPEY

RALPH SHAPEY

Works

Recordings

Reviews


Born in Philadelphia in 1921, Ralph Shapey showed early talent as a violinist. He developed as a conductor during his teens, and was appointed the Youth Conductor of the Philadelphia National Youth Administration Symphony Orchestra when he was seventeen. However, at the age of nine, he was trying his hand at composition, and by his twenties, he was composing seriously.

As a composer, Ralph Shapey always pursued excellence in his own style, regardless of trends; and in a world that frequently places at least as much emphasis on the personality and image of the artist as on his work, he uncompromisingly held the idea that the music, once created, should stand on its own. His commitment to this attitude, refusal to compromise his integrity, and disillusionment with the musical climate of the time, led him to withdraw his compositions from 1969 to 1976, since he felt that people were unable to appreciate and perform his work for its own sake. While some may have had difficulty accepting his approach to music, the importance of Shapey’s status in contemporary American music cannot be ignored. Although he acknowledged a deep respect for the classical masters of the past, and recognized their influence, his interpretation was wholly original. This led both Leonard Meyer and Bernard Jacobson to describe him as a "radical traditionalist."

In his conducting career, Ralph Shapey led many ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the London Sinfonietta, with whom he recorded his Rituals for Orchestra. Well-known as a conductor, he was the founder and music director of the Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago, a group that celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1989. Under Shapey’s leadership, the Contemporary Chamber Players became a highly respected group, establishing a reputation for excellence in their commitment to the presentation of new music. Shapey firmly believed in giving all styles of music a chance to be heard, regardless of personal taste.

While having once served on the music faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, it was his many celebrated years as Professor of Music at the University of Chicago where Shapey’s work as a teacher had its greatest mpact.

In a career which encompassed composition, conducting, and teaching, Ralph Shapey received numerous awards and commissions. He was Distinguished Professor of Music at Queens College in New York City in 1985. He was the recipient of a MacArthur Prize from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1982); the First Prize in the Kennedy Center Friedheim Competition (1990, for Concerto for Cello, Piano and String Orchestra); the Paul Fromm Award in 1993; a commission from the Philadelphia Orchestra for the bicentennial of the Constitution in 1987 (Symphonie Concertante); a commission from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a work to mark the centennials of both the orchestra and the University of Chicago, which was premiered in 1991 (Concerto Fantastique); and two commissions from the Library of Congress. He was elected in 1989 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 1994 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1991, he retired from the University of Chicago, Professor Emeritus.

Ralph Shapey died June 13, 2002.

View scores here (roll over to view score title):



Works

Chamber Ensembles |  Choral and Vocal |  Instrumental Solos |  Keyboard |  Orchestra |  Textbooks




Chamber Ensembles


Brass Quintet (1963) -- 12' 30"
2Tpt., Hn., 2Tbn.
Published: #114-40601
Commission Information: American Brass Quintet
Premiere Information: American Brass Quintet, January 27, 1965, Kaufmann Concert Hall, New York, NY
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40601P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40601S)


Chamber Symphony for Ten Solo Players (1962) -- 11'
1-1(E.H.)-0-0; 1-1-0-0; Perc., Pno., Vln., Vcl., Cb.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Group for Contemporary Music at Columbia University, Ralph Shapey, conductor, October 22, 1962, McMillin Academic Theatre, New York, NY


Concertante II for Alto Saxophone and 14 Players (1987) -- 21'
A. Sax. Solo; 1(Picc., B.Fl.)-1(E.H.)-1(E-fl.Cl., B.Cl.)-1(Cbsn.); 1-1(Picc. Tpt.)-1(B.Tbn.)-0; 3Perc., Solo Str. (Vln. 2 doubles Vla.)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Contemporary Chamber Players, Cynthia Sikes, saxophone, Ralph Shapey, conductor, April 21, 1989, Mandel Hall, Chicago, IL


Concertante No. 1 for Trumpet and Ten Instruments (1984) -- 7' 30"
Tpt. Solo; 1-1-1-1; 1-0-0-0; Perc., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Ron Anderson
Premiere Information: Contemporary Chamber Players, Ron Anderson, trumpet, Ralph Shapey, conductor, April 24, 1987, Mandel Hall, Chicago, IL
Recordings
Reviews


Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Group (1954) -- 11' 30"
Hn., 2Perc., Pno., Vln., Vcl.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Dedicated to Sylvia Shapey.
Premiere Information: Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble, Stanley Drucker, clarinet, Ralph Shapey, conductor, Kauffman Auditorium, March 20, 1955, New York, NY
Reviews


Concerto Grosso for Woodwind Quintet (1981) -- 12'
Published: #114-40442
Commission Information: Boehn Quintette
Premiere Information: Boehn Quintette, Guggenheim Museum auditorium, February 20, 1983, New York, NY

Available Separately:

Errata Sheet (#114-40442E)


Constellations (1993) -- 22'
Cl./ B.Cl./T.Sax., Vcl., El.Gtr., Cb./B.Gtr., Pno./Cel., Perc.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: May 8, 1994, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Alice Tully Hall, New York, NY


De Profundis for Solo Double Bass and Instruments (1960) -- 16' 30"
Solo Cb.; Picc./Fl., Ob./E.H., Cl./Bsn., Cl./A.Sax., Hn., Vln.
Available from the Presser Rental Library


Dinosaur Annex (1993) -- 6'
Vln./Vibr./Mar-Glk.
Published: #114-40736
Commission Information: Dinosaur Annex
Premiere Information: Dinosaur Annex, James Russell Smith conducting, May 2, 1999, First and Second Church, Boston, MA
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40736P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40736S)


Discourse Encore for Violin, Clarinet, Cello and Piano (1996) -- 2' 45"
Published: #114-41160

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-41160P)
Full Score - Large (#114-41160S)


Discourse No. 2 (1983) -- 7'
Vln., Pno., Cl., Vcl.
Published: #114-40560
Commission Information: Lewis Kaplan, for the Aeolian Players

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40560S)


Duo for Six Winds, Two Players (1991)
Available From Composer


Duo Variations for Violin and Cello
Published: #114-41185


Evocation No. 1 for Violin with Piano and Percussion (1959) -- 18'
Published: #414-41161
Commission Information: Matthew Raimondi
Premiere Information: Matthew Raimondi, violin, Yehudi Wyner, piano and Paul Price, percussion, March 26, 1960, Third Street Music School Settlement, New York, NY
Recordings
Reviews


Evocation No. 2 for Cello, Percussion and Piano (1979) -- 18'
Published: #114-40399
Commission Information: Joel Krosnick
Premiere Information: Joel Krosnick, cello, Gordon Gottlieb, percussion and Gilbert Kalish, piano, April 14, 1981, The Juilliard School, New York, NY
Reviews

Available Separately:

Solo Part (#114-40399P)


Evocation No. 4 for Violin, Cello, Piano and Percussion (1994) -- 24' 30"
Published: #114-40808
Commission Information: Joel Krosnick, Gilbert Kalish, Joel Smirnoff and William Trigg
Premiere Information: Joel Krosnick, cello, Gilbert Kalish, piano, Joel Smirnoff, violin and William Trigg, percussion, April 23, 1995, Kathryn Bache Miller Theatre, Columbia University, New York City, NY
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40808S)


Fanfares for Brass Quintet (1981) -- 3' 15"
Published: #114-40284
Commission Information: WFMT, in celebration of their 30th anniversary


Images for Oboe, Piano and Percussion (1998) -- 9' 18"
Published: #114-41131

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-41131P)
Full Score - Large (#114-41131S)


Interchange in Four Movements for Percussion Quartet (1996) -- 17'
Published: #114-41254

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-41254P)
Full Score - Study (#114-41254S)


Intermezzo for Dulcimer, Piano and Celesta (1990) -- 6'
Published: #114-40709

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40709S)


Inter-Two in Four Movements for Percussion Duo (1997) -- 15' 30"
Published: #114-40912
Commission Information: Smith Publications; dedicated to Dale Speicher and Chris Leonard


Inventions for Clarinet and Percussion (1992) -- 11' 30"
Published: #114-40708


Mann Duo for Violin and Viola (1983) -- 12' 30"
Published: #114-40438
Commission Information: Robert and Nicholas Mann
Premiere Information: Robert and Nicholas Mann, January, 1986, 92nd Street Y, New York, NY
Reviews


Movement of Varied Moments for Two for Flute and Vibraphone (1993)
Available From Sylvia Smith Archives of Smith Publications (Bierce Library, University of Akron)


Movements for Woodwind Quintet (1960) -- 11'
Fl., Ob., Cl., Bsn., Hn.
Published: #114-40563
Premiere Information: February 17, 1960, Virginia
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40563P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40563S)


Night Music No. 1 for Flutes and Tape (2001) -- 6' 07"
2Fl.(Picc., CFl., AFl., BFl.), Tape
Published: #114-41140
Premiere Information: CUBE's 80th Birthday Tribute to Ralph Shapey, Wednesday, June 6, 2001, Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL, Mary Stolper and Caroline Pittman, flutes


Night Music No. 3 (2001) -- 5'
2Vla., 2Ob., Pno.
Published: #114-41152
Commission Information: Dedicated to Phillip and Patricia Morehead.

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-41152P)
Full Score - Large (#114-41152S)


Oboe Quartet for Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello (1952) -- 10'
Published: #114-40564
Premiere Information: Alard String Quartet, James Ostryniec, oboe, October 31, 1983, Merkin Hall, New York, NY
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40564P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40564S)


Partita for Violin and 13 Players (1966) -- 20'
Solo Vln.; 1-1-1-1; 1-1-1-0; 2Perc., Vln., Vla., Vcl., Cb.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: University of Chicago
Premiere Information: Contemporary Chamber Players, Esther Glazer, violin, Ralph Shapey, conductor, January 24, 1967, Mandel Hall, Chicago, IL
Reviews


Partita-Fantasia for Cello and 16 Players (1967) -- 24' 30"
Solo Vcl.; 2-2-2-2; 1-1-1-0; 2Perc., Vln., Vla., Cb.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Koussevitzky Foundation
Premiere Information: Contemporary Chamber Players, Joel Krosnick, cello, Ralph Shapey, conductor, April 19, 1968, Mandel Hall, Chicago, IL
Reviews


Piano Quintet (1946-47) -- 45'
Published: #114-40565

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40565P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40565S)


Piano Quintet 2002 for Piano and String Quartet (2002)
Published: #114-41184
Premiere Information: February 25, 2008, Gilbert Kalish and the Juilliard String Quartet, Peter Jay Sharp Theater, The Juilliard School, New York, NY

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-41184S)


Piano Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano (1953-55) -- 12'
Published: #114-40566
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40566P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40566S)


Piece for Violin and Instruments (1962) -- 12' 30"
Ob., Cl., Bsn., Hn., Tpt., Tbn., Perc., Vcl.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Contemporary String Quartet, Max Pollikoff, violin, Ralph Shapey, conductor, May 9, 1963, Music in Our Time Concert Series, Kaufmann Auditorium
Reviews


Poeme for Viola and Percussion (1966) -- 11'
Published: #114-40567

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40567S)


Reyem or Musical Offering for Flute, Violin and Piano (1967) -- 6'
Published: #114-40515S


Soli for Percussion Duo (1989) -- 20'
Published: #114-40773
Commission Information: Commissioned by and dedicated to Erik Charleston and Gordon Gottlieb.

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40773S)


Soliloquy for Narrator, String Quartet and Percussion (1959) -- 11'
Available from the Presser Rental Library


String Quartet No. 1 (1946)
Published: #114-41134

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-41134P)
Full Score - Large (#114-41134S)


String Quartet No. 10 "Quartet d'Amore" (2000) -- 22'
Published: #114-41132
Commission Information: Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
Premiere Information: February 27, 2002, Juilliard String Quartet, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert, Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA

Movements:
"Aria d’Amore"
Quartet Amoroso
Rondo-Scherzo "Danza d’Allegria d’Amore"

Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-41132A)
Set of parts (#114-41132P)
Full Score - Large (#114-41132S)


String Quartet No. 2 (1949) -- 12' 30"
Published: #114-40571

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40571P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40571S)


String Quartet No. 3 (1951) -- 40'
Published: #114-41135
Commission Information: Philadelphia Chamber Music Society

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-41135P)
Full Score - Large (#114-41135S)


String Quartet No. 4 (1953) -- 12'
Published: #114-40572
Commission Information: Mrs. Alma Wertheim Morgenthau
Premiere Information: May 26, 1954, New Music Quartet

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40572P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40572S)


String Quartet No. 5 with Female Voice (1957-58) -- 12'
Published: #111-40120
Reviews

Available Separately:

Solo Part with Piano Reduction (#111-40120A)
Set of parts (#111-40120P)
Full Score - Large (#111-40120S)


String Quartet No. 6 (1963) -- 11' 30"
Published: #114-40573
Premiere Information: November 28, 1966 at a Composer's Showcase concert at New York University
Recordings
Reviews


String Quartet No. 7 (1972) -- 36'
Published: #114-40574
Commission Information: Fromm Music Foundation
Premiere Information: April 22, 1977, Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago, Mandel Hall, Chicago
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40574P)
Full Score - Study (#114-40574S)


String Quartet No. 8 (1993) -- 18'
Published: #114-40777
Commission Information: Naumberg Foundation, for the Ying Quartet
Premiere Information: October 25, 1994, Ying String Quartet, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40777P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40777S)


String Quartet No. 9 (1995) -- 22'
Published: #114-40819S
Commission Information: University of Wisconsin, Madison, School of Music, for the Pro Arte Quartet
Premiere Information: May 4, 1996, Pro Arte Quartet, Mills Concert Hall, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Available Separately:

Errata Sheet (#114-40819E)
Set of parts (#114-40819P)


String Trio (1965) -- 13'
Published: #114-40516S
Commission Information: Kindler Foundation
Premiere Information: January 10, 1966 by the Iowa String Quartet, The Textile Museum, Washington DC
Additional Information: Score.


Three Concert Pieces for Strings (1972)
Published: #114-40168


Three for Six (1979) -- 16' 30"
Vln.(Vla.), Vcl., Fl.(Picc.), Cl.(B.Cl.), Perc., Pno.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Chamber Music Society of Baltimore
Premiere Information: January 25, 1981, New York New Music Ensemble, Robert Black, conductor, Harvey M. Meyerhoff Center for the Performing Arts, Brooklandville, MD
Recordings

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40552P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40552S)


Trio 1992 for Violin, Cello and Piano (1992) -- 20'
Published: #114-40704
Premiere Information: March 7, 1993, Joel Smirnoff, violin, Joel Krosnick, cello, Gilbert Kalish, piano, Kathryn Bache Miller Theatre at Columbia University

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40704S)


Trio Concertante for Violin, Piano and Percussion (1992) -- 14' 30"
Published: #114-40839
Commission Information: Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40839S)


Two for Five (Concerto Grosso) for Clarinet and String Quartet (2002) -- 10'
Published: #114-41182
Commission Information: Dedicated to Charles Neidich and the Juilliard String Quartet.
Premiere Information: October, 2007. Charles Neidich, Clarinet, Juilliard Quartet, Juilliard School, New York, NY.

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-41182S)


Variations for Viola and Nine Players (1987) -- 17' 30"
Vla. Solo; Fl.(Picc., B.Fl.), E-fl.Cl., Cl.(A.Cl.), B.Cl., Pno., Vln., Vla., Vcl., Perc.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: April 20, 1990, Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago, Walter Trampler, viola, Ralph Shapey, conductor
Reviews



Choral and Vocal


Cantata (1951) -- 30'
STB soli; Narrator; 1 1 1 1 - 2 1 1 1; Perc. Str.
Withdrawn


Celebration for Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass-baritone, Chorus, Dancers and Orchestra (1997)
Available From Composer


Centennial Celebration for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone and 12 Players (1991)
Available From Composer


Dimensions for Soprano and 14 Instruments (1960) -- 20'
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Fromm Foundation
Premiere Information: Bethany Beardsley soprano, Ralph Shapey, conductor, May 13, 1961, The New School, New York, NY
Reviews


Goethe Songs for Soprano and Piano (1995) -- 14'
Published: #411-41100

Movements:
Part I (Songs 1-6)
Part II (Songs 7-12)


Incantations for Soprano and Ten Instruments (1961) -- 17' 30"
A.Sax., Hn., Tpt., 2Perc., Pno., Vcl.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Bethany Beardslee, soprano, Ralph Shapey, conductor, April 22, 1961, Composers Forum Concert Series, Donnell Library Auditorium, New York, NY
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#411-41096)


Lullaby for Flute and Soprano (1992) -- 3'
Published: #111-40151
Additional Information: Text by Robert Herrick.


Lul-La-By No. 2 for Soprano, Three Flutes (1 Player) and Tape (2001) -- 7' 34"
Published: #111-40189
Premiere Information: CUBE's 80th Birthday Tribute to Ralph Shapey, Wednesday, June 6, 2001, Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL, Barbara Ann Martin, soprano, Mary Stolper, flute


O Jerusalem for Soprano and Flute (1974-75) -- 10' 30"
Published: #111-40103
Premiere Information: Lynne Webber, soprano and David Tessmer, flute, March 5, 1978, Chatham College Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA
Recordings
Reviews


Psalm No. 1 for Soprano, Oboe and Piano (1984) -- 7'
Published: #111-40117


Psalm No. 2 (1984) -- 8'
Chorus; Sop., Ob., Vla., Vcl., Cb., Pno.
Available from the Presser Rental Library


Songs for Soprano and Piano (1982) -- 18' 42"
Not yet released (in prep: #411-41084)
Premiere Information: November 28, 1982, Elsa Charlston, soprano and Lambert Orkis, piano, Merkin Concert Hall
Additional Information: Version for Soprano and Four Instruments also available (titled "Songs No. 2").

Movements:
Death
Dreams
Hope

Recordings
Reviews


Songs No. 2 for Soprano and Four Instruments (1984) -- 18' 42"
Vln., Cl., Vcl., Pno.
Published: #411-41105
Additional Information: Original version for Soprano and Piano also available.

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#411-41105S)


Songs of Ecstasy for Soprano, Piano, Percussion and Tape (1967) -- 20'
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: May 23, 1969, Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago, Neva Pilgrim, soprano, Mandel Hall, Chicago
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#111-40119)


Songs of Eros for Soprano, Symphony Orchestra and Tape (1973-75) -- 30'
3-3-3-3, ATB Sax; 4-2-2-1; 6Perc., Solo Str., Str. Quartet
Available from the Presser Rental Library


Songs of Joy for Soprano and Piano (1987) -- 9'
Published: #111-40114


Songs of Life for Soprano, Cello and Piano (1988) -- 13' 30"
Published: #111-40143
Commission Information: Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation, for the Library of Congress
Recordings

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#111-40143P)
Full Score - Large (#111-40143S)


Songs of Love for Soprano and Piano (1990) -- 7'
Not yet released (in prep: #111-40116)


The Covenant for Soprano and 16 Players (1977) -- 45'
1-1-1-1; 1-1-1-1; 2Perc., Pno.; 2 2-Track Stereo Tapes; 2Vln., Vla., Vcl., Cb.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the state of Israel.
Premiere Information: Contemporary Chamber Players, Elsa Charlston, soprano, Ralph Shapey, conductor, April 14, 1978, Mandel Hall, Chicago, IL

Movements:
God of Mercy
I believe
It shall
It was

Recordings
Reviews


This Day for Female Voice and Piano (1960) -- 4'
Published: #111-40121
Premiere Information: April 24, 1965, Harriett Simons, soprano, Robert Marvel, piano, Butler Auditorium, Capen Hall, State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo

Movements:
Bone of My Bones
O Wonderful, Wonderful
The Universe Resounds


Trilogy: Song of Songs for Soprano, Baritone, Ensemble and Tape (1979-80)
Sop. (mvts. 1 & 3), and Bari. (mvts. 2 & 3) Soli; 1-1-1-1; 1-1-1-1; Perc., Pno., Tape
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: No. 1: Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation
Premiere Information: Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago, Elsa Charlston, soprano, Ralph Shapey, conductor. No. 1: February 29, 1980, Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress. Nos. 2 & 3: April 24, 1981, Mandel Hall, Chicago.

Movements:
No. 1 - Shulamite's Love for Solomon
No. 2 - Solomon's Love for Shulamite
No. 3 - Solomon and Shulamite Together

Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#411-41097)


Walking Upright Eight Songs for Female Voice and Violin (1958) -- 8'
Published: #111-40122
Premiere Information: December 6, 1958, Paula Zwane, soprano, Matthew Raimondi, violin, Emilie Wagner Auditorium, Third Street Music School Settlement, New York



Instrumental Solos


Configurations for Flute and Piano (1965) -- 13' 30"
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Sue Kahn
Premiere Information: Sue Kahn, flute and Robert Miller, piano, March 23, 1966, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York City, NY

Movements:
with intense gesture
with joyous abandon
with meditation

Recordings

Available Separately:

Score and parts (#114-40599)
Full Score - Large (#114-40599S)


Duo for Viola and Piano (1957) -- 9' 30"
Published: #114-40559
Premiere Information: Walter Trampler, viola and Lalan Parrott, piano, March 26, 1958, Third Street Music School Settlement, New York City, NY

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40559S)


Evocation No. 3 for Viola and Piano (1981) -- 16' 30"
Published: #414-41162
Commission Information: Naumburg Foundation
Premiere Information: Thomas Riebl, viola and Susan Tomes, piano, October 18, 1982, Alice Tully Hall, New York, NY
Reviews

Available Separately:

Errata Sheet (#414-41162E)


Fantasy for Violin and Piano (1983) -- 12'
Published: #114-40466
Commission Information: Eugene and Sylvia Gratovich
Recordings


For Solo Trumpet (1967) -- 10'
Published: #114-40562


Four Etudes for Violin
Available From ASTA


Gottlieb Duo for Percussion and Piano (1984) -- 8'
Published: #114-40465

Movements:
Scherzo
Song
Variations

Recordings

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40465S)


Kroslish Sonate for Cello and Piano (1985) -- 22'
Published: #114-40457
Commission Information: Joel Krosnick and Gilbert Kalish
Premiere Information: Joel Krosnick, cello and Gilbert Kalish, piano
Recordings
Reviews


Krosnick Soli for Cello Solo (1983) -- 10'
Published: #114-40508
Commission Information: Joel Krosnick
Premiere Information: Joel Krosnick, October 22, 1985, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York City, NY


Mann Soli for Violin
Published: #114-41183
Recordings


Millennium Designs for Violin and Piano (2000) -- 20' 01"
Published: #114-41130
Commission Information: McKim Fund, for The Library of Congress
Premiere Information: April 18, 2002, Joel Smirnoff, violin and Gilbert Kalish, piano, Library of Congress
Recordings


Night Music No. 2 for Violin/Viola (One player) and Tape (2001) -- 13'
Published: #114-41141
Premiere Information: CUBE's 80th Birthday Tribute to Ralph Shapey, Wednesday, June 6, 2001, Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL, Frank Babbitt


Night Music No. 4 for Three Clarinets (One Player and Tape) (2002)
Published: #114-41169
Commission Information: Dedicated to Bruce Yeh.


Partita for Solo Violin (1966) -- 16'
Published: #114-40482
Premiere Information: Max Pollikoff, January 30, 1967, Town Hall, New York City, NY
Recordings


Prelude and Scherzando for Violoncello and Piano (2001)
Published: #114-41139
Commission Information: Dedicated to Gwen Krosnick.
Reviews


Rhapsodie for Cello and Piano (1993) -- 7' 30"
Published: #114-40738
Commission Information: Dedicated to Joel Krosnick and Gibert Kalish.

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40738S)


Rhapsodie for Oboe and Piano (1957) -- 5' 30"
Published: #114-40568
Recordings


Soli for Solo Percussion (1985) -- 20' 30"
Published: #114-40700
Premiere Information: January 26, 1992, New York, NY


Solo-Duo-Trio for Solo Cello and Tape (1999) -- 13' 24"
Published: #114-41069


Sonata Appassionata for Cello and Piano (1995) -- 25'
Published: #114-41048
Premiere Information: February 12, 1998, Joel Krosnick, cello, Gilbert Kalish, piano, Miller Theater, Columbia University


Sonata for Oboe and Piano (1951-52) -- 18'
Published: #114-40570
Commission Information: Josef Marx
Recordings

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40570P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40570S)


Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano (1998) -- 10' 55"
Published: #114-41041


Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano (1998) -- 12' 58"
Published: #114-41042
Reviews


Sonata No. 3 for Violin and Piano (1998) -- 13' 02"
Published: #114-41043
Recordings


Sonate for Cello and Piano (1953) -- 14'
Published: #114-40569
Premiere Information: March 10, 1956, Jackson Wiley, cello, Russell Sherman, piano, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, NY

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#114-40569S)


Sonate No. 1 for Violin Solo (1977) -- 16'
Published: #414-41151
Recordings


Two for One for Solo Snare Drum (1988)
Available From Sylvia Smith Archives of Smith Publications (Bierce Library, University of Akron)



Keyboard


21 Variations for Piano (1978) -- 28'
Published: #410-41230
Commission Information: Abraham Stokman
Premiere Information: January 20, 1979, Abraham Stokman, piano, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Recordings
Reviews


Birthday Piece for Stefan Wolpe for Piano (1962) -- 5' 30"
Published: #110-40699
Premiere Information: Howard Lebow, December 18, 1962, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York City, NY


Deux for Two Pianos (1967)
Published: #110-40691
Commission Information: Philip Lorenz and Ena Bronstein
Premiere Information: Philip Lorenz and Ena Bronstein, April 14, 1969, Hall of the Americas, Pan American Union, Washington, DC
Reviews


Form for Piano (1959) -- 7'
Published: #110-40692
Premiere Information: Howard Lebow, November 4, 1961, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY


Fromm Variations 31 Variations for Piano (1966; 1972-73) -- 43-45'
Published: #110-40695
Commission Information: Dedicated to Paul Fromm.
Premiere Information: Robert Black, May 17, 1979, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York City, NY
Recordings
Reviews


Harmaxiemanda for Piano (1984) -- 1' 30"
Published: #110-40677


Mutations I for Piano (1956) -- 6' 30"
Published: #110-40688
Premiere Information: Irma Wolpe, April 6, 1958, Nonagon Gallery, New York City, NY


Mutations II for Piano (1966) -- 13' 30"
Published: #110-40686
Commission Information: Bowling Green State University, for Frances Burnett
Premiere Information: Frances Burnett, February 15, 1967, Bowling Green University, Bowling Green, OH
Reviews


Passacaglia for 2 Pianos, 1 Player (Player with Tape) (1997) -- 13' 38"
Published: #110-40742
Commission Information: Dedicated to Gilbert Kalish.


Passacaglia for Piano (1982) -- 13'
Published: #410-41256
Commission Information: Robert Black
Premiere Information: Robert Black, April, 1983, Abraham Goodman House, New York City, NY
Reviews


Seven for Piano, 4 Hands (1963) -- 7'
Published: #110-40693
Commission Information: Milton and Peggy Salkind
Premiere Information: Milton and Peggy Salkind, November 18, 1963, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#110-40693S)


Seven Little Pieces for Piano (1951) -- 8'
Published: #410-41222


Short Piece for Piano (1956) -- 1'
Published: #110-40723


Sonance for Carillon (1964) -- 11'
Published: #114-40534
Commission Information: Daniel Robins, for the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon at at the University of Chicago
Premiere Information: July 1, 1964, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago


Sonata No. 1 for Piano (1946)
Withdrawn


Sonata Profondo for Piano (1995) -- 18'
Published: #410-41321
Premiere Information: January 17, 1997, Russell Sherman, piano, Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory
Reviews


Sonate-Variations for Piano (1954) -- 12' 30"
Published: #110-40696
Premiere Information: October 13, 1956, Lolan Parrott, piano, Carnegie Recital Hall
Reviews


Suite of Four Pieces for Piano (1952)
Published: #110-40694


Symphony No. 1 Transcription for Two Pianos (1952)
Withdrawn


Tango Variations on a Cantus for Piano (1984)
Published: #110-40755


Theme plus 10 for Harpsichord (1987) -- 12'
Published: #410-41288
Commission Information: Commissioned by and dedicated to Robert Conant.


Three Essays on Thomas Wolfe for Piano (1948-49) -- 28'
Published: #410-41236


Variations for Organ (1985) -- 18'
Published: #113-40036
Premiere Information: March 10, 1986, Mollie Nichols Shuler, organ, The Church of the Ascension, Chicago
Reviews


Variations on a Cantus for Piano (1987) -- 6'
Published: #110-40681



Orchestra


Challenge-the Family of Man for Symphony Orchestra (1955) -- 15'
4-4-4-4; 4-3-3-1; Timp., Perc., Pno., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Dimitri Mitropoulos, to honor the memory of Mrs. Alma Wertheim Morgenthau


Concerto Fantastique for Orchestra (1989) -- 70'
2(Picc.)-3(E.H.)-3(Picc./Cl. in D/E-fl.Cl.)-3; 4-4-5-1; Timp., Perc., Pno., Cel., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: AT&T, in honor of the joint centennials of the University of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Premiere Information: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ralph Shapey, conductor, November 21, 1991, Orchestra Hall, Chicago, IL
Reviews


Concerto for Cello, Piano and String Orchestra (1986) -- 25' 15"
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Dedicated to Joel Krosnick and Gil Kalish.
Premiere Information: Joel Krosnick, cello and Gil Kalish, piano, Ralph Shapey, conductor, July 31, 1989, Tanglewood Music Center, MA
Additional Information: Kennedy Center Friedheim Award winner, First Prize, 1990.
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#416-41130)


Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra (1983) -- 31' 30"
Orch A: Vln. Vcl. soli; 2-2-2-2; 2-2-3-0; Timp., 3Perc., Pno., Str. Orch B: Vln. Vcl. soli; 2-2-2-2; 2-2-2-1; Timp., 3Perc., Cel., Str
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Juilliard Symphony, Robert Mann, violin and Joel Krosnick, cello, Ralph Shapey, conductor, January 23, 1984, Juilliard School’s Festival of Contemporary Music, New York City, NY
Reviews


Fantasy for Orchestra (1951)
Withdrawn


Gamper Festival Concerto for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1999) -- 20'
Fl./Picc. Cl./B.Cl. Vln. Vcl. Pno. Soli; 0-1-0-1; 1-0-0-0; 2Perc., Str. (6 5 4 4 4)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Aeolian Chamber Players
Premiere Information: Aeolian Chamber Players, Ralph Shapey, conductor, July 23, 1999, Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Brunswick High School, ME


Invocation-Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1959) -- 22' 30"
Solo Vln.; 2-2-2-2; 3-2-2-1; 3Perc., Pno., Gtr., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Esther Glazer, violin, Ralph Shapey, conductor, May 24, 1968, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Reviews


Ontogeny for Symphony Orchestra (1958) -- 20'
4-2-3-2; 3-2-2-1; 9Perc., Pno., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Chicago Symphony, Ralph Shapey, conductor, May 26, 1966, Mandel Hall, Chicago, IL
Reviews


Rituals for Symphony Orchestra (1959) -- 13'
3-3-3-3; ATB Sax; 3-2-2-1; 8Perc., Pno., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ralph Shapey, conductor, May 12, 1966, Chicago, IL
Recordings
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#416-41098)


Stony Brook Concerto (1996) -- 19' 30"
1(Picc.)-1-1-1; 1-1-1(B.Tbn.)-0; 2Perc., Vln., Vcl., Pno.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: November 26, 1996, Contemporary Chamber Players, Staller Center for the Arts, State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook
Reviews


Symphonie Concertante (1985) -- 30'
3-2-3-3; 3-3-4-1; 2Timp., 6Perc., Pno., Cel., Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Philadelphia Orchestra, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Constitution
Premiere Information: April 2, 1987, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Riccardo Muti, conductor
Reviews


Symphony No. 1 (1952)
Withdrawn



Textbooks


A Basic Course in Music Composition
Published: #417-41035
Reviews


Recordings


Seven for Piano, 4 Hands



Friends of Four Hand Music



Fromm Variations 31 Variations for Piano


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) SD 428:
Robert Black, piano.



O Jerusalem for Soprano and Flute


Opus One Recordings No. 121:



Songs of Life for Soprano, Cello and Piano


Arabesque Records Z 6728:



Kroslish Sonate for Cello and Piano


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CD 762: Scott Kluksdahl: Lines for solo cello
Scott Kluksdahl, cello



New World Records CD 80355: Silverman/Shapey
J. Krosnick, cello; G. Kalish, piano.



Gottlieb Duo for Percussion and Piano


Capstone Records CPS-8691: Crossfade
Hoffmann/Goldstein Duo



Fantasy for Violin and Piano


New World Records NW 333: Hidden Sparks
Maryvonne Le Dizes-Richard, violin; Jean-Claude Henriot, piano



Partita for Solo Violin


Centaur CRC 2900: Music by Ralph Shapey
Miranda Cuckson, violin



Movements for Woodwind Quintet


New World Records CD 80413: Martin Bresnick: Just Time
New York Woodwind Quintet.



Rhapsodie for Oboe and Piano


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CRI 423:



Sonata for Oboe and Piano


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) SD 501:



String Quartet No. 6


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CRI 275:



String Quartet No. 7


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CRI 391:
Quartet of the Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago.



Brass Quintet


New World Records CD 80377: American Brass Quintet
American Brass Quintet



Sonata No. 3 for Violin and Piano


Centaur CRC 3103: More Music by Ralph Shapey
Miranda Cuckson, violin; Blair McMillen, piano



Millennium Designs for Violin and Piano


Centaur CRC 2900: Music by Ralph Shapey
Miranda Cuckson, violin; Blair McMillen, piano



Mann Soli for Violin


Centaur CRC 2900: Music by Ralph Shapey
Miranda Cuckson, violin



21 Variations for Piano


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) SD 496:



Songs for Soprano and Piano


Opus One Recordings No. 106:



Sonate No. 1 for Violin Solo


Centaur CRC 3103: More Music by Ralph Shapey
Miranda Cuckson, violin; Blair McMillen, piano



Evocation No. 1 for Violin with Piano and Percussion


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CRI 141:
Matthew Raimondi, Paul Price Chamber Ensemble, Werner Torkanowsky, cond.



Concertante No. 1 for Trumpet and Ten Instruments


New World Records CD 80355: Silverman/Shapey
Contemporary Chamber Players of University of Chicago, Ralph Shapey; R. Anderson, trumpet.



Configurations for Flute and Piano


New World Records NW 254:



New World Records CD 80541: New Music for Virtuosos
Harvey Sollberger, flute.



The Covenant for Soprano and 16 Players


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CD 690 (also CRI 435): Ralph Shapey



Incantations for Soprano and Ten Instruments


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CRI 232:
Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago; Bethany Beardslee, soprano; Ralph Shapey, conductor.



Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CD 690: Ralph Shapey



Interchange in Four Movements for Percussion Quartet


Capstone Records CPS-8668: ...the speed of the passing time…
Talujon Percussion Quartet



Rituals for Symphony Orchestra


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CRI 275:



Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) CD 690: Ralph Shapey



Songs of Ecstasy for Soprano, Piano, Percussion and Tape


Desto Records DC 7124:



Three for Six


Composers Recordings, Inc. (New World Records) SD 501:



Reviews

"His body of works speaks for itself. Ralph Shapey is a unique American composer. …His integrity and dedication to the art of composition know few equals."

-Patricia Morehead, oboist

"…a towering master, a composer of flinty, astringent and utterly original works."

-Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

"Shapey was a master at writing unconventionally scored chamber works that packed an orchestral wallop…"

-Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

"Ralph Shapey is one of the strongest personalities and most individual figures in American music."

-Stereo Review

"..now is the right time to reconsider Shapey and his substantial legacy."

-Peter Grahame Woolf, musicalpointers.co.uk

"You cannot hear the bumptious little Scherzo from "Five for Violin and Piano" and not fall under the sway of Shapey's sly humor."

-Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

"…formidable, complex and ingenious works…

What comes through in this recent trove of recordings is that for all the gritty complexity of Shapey's works, this authentic music has arresting qualities, including pugnacious rhythmic vitality and vibrant humor."

-Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

"Shapey's output is considerable and encompasses a variety of traditional and non-traditional instrumental and vocal/instrumental media. …Shapey's music represents a major extension of the old idea of originality, individualism, personal expression, and a kind of visionary power as the artist's true domain."

-Eric Salzman, 20th Century Music


Mutations II for Piano

"Rarely has such complex music been so enjoyable on the first hearing. …The design of Mutations II was marvelously simple. …Each change was sudden, but so well prepared that it was never unnatural. …This was not music for the timid, but neither was it merely for the specialist in 20th century music."

-Kyle Gann, Chicago Reader


Deux for Two Pianos

"…well made, with contrasts and tensions to make it vital."

-Raymond Ericson, New York Times

"In the Shapey work the piano duo totally captured the demoniac fervor of the indicated marking ‘wild, with energy’… After the furore subsided, a pleasant quite conventional open chordal section brought the work to a peaceful close."

-Ylda Novik, The Evening Star


Seven for Piano, 4 Hands

"…interesting, even expressive from many viewpoints — coloristic, impressionistic, energetic, emotionally declamatory."

-Alexander Fried, San Francisco Examiner


Fromm Variations 31 Variations for Piano

"…Ralph Shapey’s Fromm Variations stands out with a stylistic purity and rugged intensity that is so typical of this uncompromising composer."

-Peter G. Davis, New York Times

"…this music is no weak repetition of things you’ve heard before… Shapey’s music is his own, and when we recognize other things in it, we are examining old friends in radically new contexts and, most importantly, the interaction of both in a complex and compelling musical experience…"

-Paul Rapaport, Fanfare

"[Fromm Variations] will doubtless find a place in the repertoire if pianists only accept its formidable challenge, so rich is its expressive content and so well-developed are its characterizations."

-St. Louis Globe-Democrat

"What impresses immediately is that this is music in which every note, and its placement within its chord, is clearly intended to be heard."

-Peter Grahame Woolf, musicalpointers.co.uk


Sonate-Variations for Piano

"…notable for its communicative rhythms, strong and logical sense of direction, and pleasing sonorities."

-Musical America


O Jerusalem for Soprano and Flute

"…the most important of the first performances. Real words are used for the text, broken up in unusual patterns, so that the meaning is conveyed in a half-abstract, half-verbal way."

-Robert Croan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


String Quartet No. 5 with Female Voice

"Mr. Shapey's String Quartet No. 5 seemed almost violently expressive and self-assertive. …the composer's feelings ring true. They are stated powerfully by the strings weaving around held tones, and by the evocative vocal line, and it is impossible not to be stirred by this work."

-Raymond Ericson, The New York Times


Variations for Organ

"Mr. Shapey's gritty harmonic idiom sounds very impressive when intoned by the grand sustaining power of an organ. But it is the overtly Romantic, heaven-storming side of his personality that suits the pipe organ particularly well."

-John Rockwell, New York Times

"The theme that undergoes the variations is in itself atonally and dissonantly heroic, but its progress implies a destination within a tonality and a harmonic scheme tantalizingly near consonance."

-Leighton Kerner, Voice


Evocation No. 2 for Cello, Percussion and Piano

"…[Evocation No. 2] sounded almost like an American Messiaen, but with an exactitude of aural color and a lack of self-indulgence that the Frenchman does not always equal."

-John Rockwell, New York Times

"Shapey chisels the music from rock and then walks around it, examining it from all angles, light and shadow slanting in from every direction. …vigorous, strong-limbed and …authentic."

-Richard Dyer, Boston Globe


Mann Duo for Violin and Viola

"…offers a ruggedly Expressionistic, fierce first movement for violin and viola, followed by a tender slow movement for two violas and two final, linked movements for two violins… It’s a moving piece, fully worthy of Mr. Shapey’s considerable reputation, and even if it didn’t end the evening, it formed its true climax."

-John Rockwell, New York Times


Kroslish Sonate for Cello and Piano

"Its middle movement has a time-suspended, post-nuclear eeriness, and the big, outer ones honestly merit their marking of ‘maestoso.’ One wants to hear this sinewy piece again soon…"

-Boston Globe

"…a three-movement creation dating from 1986, when the 65-year-old composer was showing signs of the mellowing that came over both his personality and his music…the central movement - "Delicato"…speaks the language of a soul profoundly tranquil beneath the storms that marked Shapey's external career."

-Bernard Jacobson, Seen & Heard: Music Web


Three for Six

"Though Three for Six was in a style usually considered inaccessible, its form and intentions were, as usual for Shapey, remarkably clear. …a truly electric composition, and the most thrilling new work I'd heard in several moons. …Bravo Shapey!"

-Kyle Gann, Chicago Reader

"…the prize piece was the sextet Three for Six by that insufficiently celebrated master Ralph Shapey. Shapey's phraseology is original and so is his sense of sonority. Nobody is like him. Shapey creates a jagged, shrieky instrumental hubbub and yet has you marveling at its sheer transparency… and the audible fact that it all proceeds in purposefully measured phrases to exciting destinations. Cliché it knows not."

-Richard Buell, Boston Globe

"The voice of American individualism made a powerful clangor in the Green Room Monday night, in the form of Ralph Shapey's Three for Six… There were other pieces on the [concert program], but not even Schoenberg could compete with the indelible impression left by the 70-year old Shapey's explosive 1979 score… Shapey's writing is craggy, rhythmically propulsive and utterly gripping."

-Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

"…assertive, coldly brilliant, abrasively passionate outer movements flanking a lyrical slow movement, the whole bound together by recurrent materials. The score sounds like Olivier Messiaen mixed with Aztec blood-rituals, as mystical as Messiaen but diabolic instead of angelic. Such imagery may in fact have been far from Mr. Shapey's mind, but it serves to suggest the music's hot-house drama."

-John Rockwell, New York Times


Discourse for Four Instruments

"…the Shapey Discourse is made up of strong, jagged, hard-edged 20th-century materials. It is not pretty but it is very real and it has surprisingly tender moments."

-Theodore Strongin


Movements for Woodwind Quintet

"This almost unplayable piece was the most arousing, the most surprising item of the forum and it must be heard again. The general effect is that of hearing five brilliant musicians simultaneously warming up their instruments and concentrating on the least explored registers, the ones other composers do not use."

-John White, Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Craggy and pungently atonal, the music moves in fitful spurts of astringently dissonant yet captivating harmony with strangely wide-spaced chords. I especially love the third movement, where the instruments break into obstinate bouts of counterpoint."

-Anthony Tommasini, New York Times


Oboe Quartet for Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello

"Its tough-skinned intellectual severity is mixed with a piquant wit and slightly cynical glimpses of sentiment… disorienting and slyly captivating, both in its fury and in its wry irony."

-Edward Rothstein, New York Times

"The oboe and the trio seem in opposition but their alternate lyrical and pungent utterances aren't antagonistic. In fact, bouts of wit and sentiment heighten a sense of camaraderie…"

-Ted Shen, Chicago Tribune


Piano Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano

"…a solid work of real quality, the Piano Trio (1955) by Ralph Shapey. Shapey is very independent, and so is his powerfully cast music of which this is a striking example. His First Trio's date of composition belies the contemporaneity of the sound of its bold, sharp-edged gestures, intense, dry dissonance, propulsive rhythm and taut interaction of the three instruments. …It was stirring and exciting, the piece and the performance."

-Robert Commanday, San Francisco Chronicle


String Quartet No. 6

"The work is lean of materials and straightforward as stone. Sculpture and architecture are called to mind in reflecting on this fine work."

-Carman Moore, Village Voice

"…the Quartet is highly poetic in nature and very lyrical, with beautiful, quiet, sustained episodes during which the viola and cello sustain a dissonant interval very softly, while the two violins stroke soft, separated, almost inaudible notes, many of them upper harmonics… Mr. Shapey keeps his piece well-knit and with a strong sense of direction."

-Theodore Strongin, New York Times

"Shapey… makes a powerful impression within a general post-Webern style orientation. His music is vital, probing, passionate and communicative – characteristics of all important music."

-Arthur Darack, Chicago Daily News


String Quartet No. 7

"It is a work of intense and tremendous lyricism, expressed – as always in Shapey's music – in a very dissonant, block-like form. This is a bleak, heart-rending musical landscape – especially in the long and difficult final Passacaglia – but the beauty… is very real."

-Stereo Review

"This is a piece composed of melodic and harmonic fragments which are alternately elaborated on or reduced to their bare essentials. These units are manipulated in a most ingenious manner, yielding some remarkable sonorities."

-New Haven Register

"Then came Shapey's quartet, a craggy, challenging and gut-intense half-hour of music that made few concessions to conventional notions of euphony or chamber-music gentility. It is music of almost non-stop tension, pitting the four instrumentalists against each other in densely woven thickets of dissonant counterpoint, or playing them off against each other in combinations. …This quartet seems to me a brilliant and important work."

-Robert Finn, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"…wonderfully melodious 35-minute quartet. Moving in and out of an uneasy tonality, it relies on such time-honored devices as ostinato and complex chordal patterns to construct a classically proportioned statement of breathtaking beauty."

-Los Angeles Times


Configurations for Flute and Piano

"The Shapey is extreme in the demands it makes on its players, but the over-all impression is poised and sure, sometimes ebullient and always carefully in balance."

-New York Times

"Big sonorous shapes are spread right to the edges of the audible and performable range… framed in a complex, set, overlapping rhythmic cycle – a kind of fixed, resonant solar system turning on its own axis and illuminated with a great central intensity and vision."

-Eric Salzman, New York Herald Tribune


Brass Quintet

"Ralph Shapey’s Brass Quintet of 1963 stimulated with its powerful, dissonant blocks of sound and ritualistic repetitions."

-Raymond Ericson, New York Times


Dinosaur Annex

"Here, in effect, was your tough, bite-your-head-off, modern virtuoso concerto equipped with a big beating romantic heart underneath… A feisty business it was, and terse too, sagely leaving the audience asking for more."

-Richard Buell, Boston Globe


String Quartet No. 8

"Mr. Shapey is an interesting old trickster. He begins each movement with a bleak patch of academic angularity and then gradually reveals a truly lyrical and sometimes arch-Romantic impulse. Once past the introductory thorns, a listener is rewarded with long-lined melodies, inventive chord progressions, introspective intensity and humorous asides."

-Allan Kozinn, New York Times


Evocation No. 4 for Violin, Cello, Piano and Percussion

"Aggression and lyricism, celebration and elegy, angularity and warmth, vigor and tenderness all tugged at the listener. In the hands of a less rugged structuralist than Mr. Shapey, so many opposing forces might have made for a diffuse work, but here they were exactly what bound the piece together."

-Allan Kozinn, New York Times


String Quartet No. 9

"…the ghost of Arnold Schoenberg is alive and well in the music of Ralph Shapey, and I intend this as the highest possible compliment. …on this first hearing my reaction was: 'Thank heavens, here's somebody who hasn't been carried out to sea by the wave of Neo-Romanticism that's closing out our century.'"

-Jess Anderson, Isthmus


Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano

"…a wonderful piece of art.

The first movement, “Variations,” yearns as it insists and compels; the second, “Rondo-Scherzando,” darts in coy staccato bursts; the finale, “Canzonetta,” has a dark, complicated momentum.

The music came off with a tremendous splendor.

…the interpretation [by Tai Murray and Lambert Orkis] was warmly bracing."

-Lesley Valdes, The Philadelphia Inquirer


String Quartet No. 10 "Quartet d'Amore"

"In stretches of music that seem to deny form, gesture and even direction, it is possible to hear a classical strictness and firm view of the destination. …Shapey's finale is inevitable, musically and emotionally confirming – and far from yielding to – any expectations."

-Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Inquirer


Prelude and Scherzando for Violoncello and Piano

"Shapey is not to be fit into any fashion, but be remembered as one of the best – and greatest – of the romantic radicals. Perhaps only Beethoven stormed the heavens with such ferocity."

-Tim Page, Washington Post

"When the Mount Rushmore of American composers is carved, Ralph Shapey will be right up there with the great originals like Ives and Ruggles; his music has comparable strength, individuality and integrity."

-Richard Dyer, Boston Globe

"…in his music, every last detail is worked out with an almost ferocious intellectual power. But at the same time its emotional climate is of the most intense lyricism. It is this combination that has led Leonard B. Meyer to dub Shapey ' a radical traditionalist.' …his output forms the finest and most substantial body of music by any American composer of our times."

-Bernard Jacobson, Chicago Daily News

"Ralph Shapey's Prelude and Scherzando (2001), was… less than four minutes long but tightly packed with rhythmically vital piano writing and wide-ranging cello themes."

-Allan Kozinn, The New York Times


Two for Five

"This piece turned to be more immediately inviting than many Shapey scores."

-Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

"Shapey writes a fascinatingly lecherous music. In [Evocation No. 1] he creates a many-sided musical image, a fat tonal prism reflecting familiar ‘avant-garde’ sound patterns… He achieves structural totality with skill; he is clever with the instruments and handy with the atonal kit."

-Vincent Persichetti, Musical Quarterly


21 Variations for Piano

"Ralph Shapey's music nearly always resembles highly charged particles of energy in constant dramatic flux, yet always controlled and directed by a rigorous internal logic. His is a music of aggressive clashes of ideas and uncertain resolutions – a music very much of and for our troubled times… Such is the feel and resonance of [Ralph Shapey's] newest work, titled 21 Variations for Piano…"

-John Von Rhein, Chicago Tribune


Passacaglia for Piano

"This 13-minute work promises to be a major contribution to the American contemporary piano literature. …Those looking for significant new works by American composers should check on this one."

-Clavier

"This is music of large gestures — booming blows to the keyboard with intermittent sections of intensely lyric writing. The Passacaglia, like most of Mr. Shapey’s music, is an affair of the heart and a passionate affair at that. No one, at any rate, will ever accuse him of reserve or reticence."

-Bernard Holland, New York Times


Sonata Profondo for Piano

"…massive, defiant, boldly theatrical, and cunningly constructed…"

-Peter G. Davis

"Shapey's powerful piece deserves a permanent place in the repertory. It is as tightly organized from primal materials as the Liszt Sonata is; the sound-world mingles the composer's characteristic rugged and uncompromising clangor with some surprisingly supple lyricism."

-Richard Dyer, Boston Globe


Songs for Soprano and Piano

"These are direct, stark, gloomy and challenging songs and they deserve to take their place among the strongest soprano literature of our time."

-Tim Page, New York Times

"There is no mistaking this intense music as the product of anyone but Shapey; it holds your attention in an unrelenting grip."

-John Von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

"Best of all was a song cycle, entitled merely Songs, and almost arbitrarily taking its text from various writers' thoughts on dreams, hope and death… Yet there was no randomness in the music: it imposed its own idiom, direction and goals upon the words…"

-Meirion Bowen, Arts Guardian (London)


Evocation No. 1 for Violin with Piano and Percussion

"Ralph Shapey's splashy [Evocation No. 1], the voice of an extravagantly free spirit, had momentum, humor, gall, fresh notions of what can go wit what …and also, possibly, the quality that in esthetics goes by the name of "significant shape.""

-Richard Buell, Boston Globe

"Extremely striking… included Puckish humor and real tenderness along with a hieratic Kabuki sort of gripping, self-righteous tension."

-Alexander Fried, San Francisco Examiner

"The work is pungent and condensed, honest, feeling and communicative. …The sense of form and of development through frank and subtle reiteration and variation is highly evolved. Hearing this work, I become still more certain that Shapey is one of our big talents. The Evocation is a good introduction to his music."

-Lester Trimble, The Nation

"The virtuosic writing for violin cast the instrument in varying roles, but sketched a picture of a contemporary hero – full of conflicts and darkness, but true to itself."

-Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Inquirer


Evocation No. 3 for Viola and Piano

"The first two sections, a passacaglia and a scherzo, adhere to the composer’s craggy, atonal manner…

The third section…with its long-breathed lyricism, belies Shapey’s image as an angry purveyor of gnarled abstract-expressionism."

-John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

"…as evocative as its title, featuring long expanses of melodic line that test Mr. Riebl’s bowing skills to their fullest. The piano part was filled with shimmering chordal accompaniments, all cleverly calculated by Mr. Shapey to allow the muted sonorities of the viola part to shine through."

-Bernard Holland, New York Times

"…a Beethovenian stunner in which enraptured ruminations give way to anguish then to calm acceptance."

-Ted Shen, Chicago Tribune


A Basic Course in Music Composition

"Ralph’s exercises present a way to generate totally integrated, organic music — music that is deeply, even ‘three-dimensionally’ contrapuntal. And, while the materials and results are completely chromatic (what some would call atonal), students come away with a heightened sensitivity to the power and will of voice-leading, no matter the style of the music at hand, and to the particular sonority of each kind of interval, whether it be vertical or horizontal. I learned to push notes around a little; I also learned when to let them push me around!"

-Melinda Wagner, Pulitzer Prize in Music winner (1999)

"While I learned invaluable things from several of my composition teachers, Ralph Shapey is the only one who gave me the elements of a personal practice, the nuts-and-bolts of real technique. Ralph taught me several essential elements of the craft through his course, which I could then realize in my own voice. They were: 1) how to write a convincing phrase, 2) how to create within that phrase the internal dynamism which would propel it forward, and 3) how to shape that momentum so that it could generate real counterpoint. It’s given me great pleasure to read Ralph’s book, to take his curriculum to heart again. It seems as fresh, inventive, pugnacious as ever. And perhaps the greatest compliment of all, I have used elements of this course in my own teaching of first year composition course for undergraduates for almost two decades now. Like his music, his pedagogy is a legacy for which all creative musicians will be thankful."

-Robert Carl, Professor of Composition, The Hartt School of Music

"When I studied the Basic Course, Ralph Shapey frequently claimed he’d teach us to ‘squeeze blood from a stone.’ This is a great description of the control, discipline, and focus his exercises ingrained in us to create something rich from the most limited materials. As a modern complement to species counterpoint, Shapey’s curriculum teaches us to master and best exploit the notes no matter what their relationships are, and the Basic Course is a terrific technique-builder for composers in any idiom. The rawness of his presentation in this book is the signature of an independent genius sharing his unique vision."

-Daniel Dorff, Composer-in-Residence, Haddonfield Symphony (NJ)

"In the summer of 1976 I asked Ralph Shapey if he’d consent to be my teacher. As his colleague at the University of Chicago I became intrigued by the frequent references made by various students about his "basic course." I wanted to sample it for myself. Ralph happily obliged and, indeed, the "basic course" turned out to be a revelation – compositionally as well as pedagogically. I’ve incorporated it in my own teaching ever since, and never cease to be amazed at its capacity to stretch and extend a composer’s imagination and technical resources, allowing at the same time for the many individual voices of my students to shine through."

-Shulamit Ran, Pulitzer Prize in Music winner (1991)


Concertante No. 1 for Trumpet and Ten Instruments

"Independent voice wove dense, dark textures which were pierced by the silvery protestations of the trumpet. A typically Shapeyesque sense of heroic striving pervaded the 10-minute piece, which ended with a calming epilogue for trumpet and vibraphone."

-John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

"…the highlight of the evening for at least one listener and a compelling example of why Shapey is such an invaluable asset to Chicago musical life. If any complaint can be registered about this piece, it would be that its brevity left more than a few concertgoers wanting more."

-Tom Gorman, The Chicago Herald

"…the most important new composition to emerge from recent concerts is Ralph Shapey's Concertante… Bright and full of vivid color…"

-Dennis Polkow, Chicago Musicale

"…the highlight of Friday’s strong program… It was a dramatic work full of declamatory outbursts and long-held tones that swelled and faded atmospherically… The short, final section evoked the haunted beauty of a wakeful night."

-Wynne Delacome, Chicago Sun-Times


Concerto for Cello, Piano and String Orchestra

"…the biggest event, the most powerful discover, came from that cantankerously independent American soul, Ralph Shapey… a gripping, often ferocious experience…"

-Leighton Kerner, Voice

"…vibrant, unsettling and moving… Shapey has grabbed the heritage of the concerto form by the collar and made it march in step with his own vision."

-Anthony Tommasini, The Boston Globe

"…a magnificent work — epic in its scope, arrestingly original in its utterance, alive with interest and expression… great music by any standard I know."

-Tim Page, Newsday


Concerto Fantastique for Orchestra

"The finest movement… is the second: a slow, stately Elegy for the late Paul Fromm, punctuated by a four-note motto and ending, misterioso, as a soft chorale for horns and trombones… The composer’s clear beat patterns gave his music the firm organization and vigorous drive it demanded."

-John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune


Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Group

"If I had to choose one word to describe the concerto, it would be ‘passionate.’ Like all of Shapey’s music, it is remarkable in its ever-heightening sense of drama… The Shapey concerto is a unique work, worthy of a permanent place in the clarinet repertoire."

-Charles Neidich, Clarinetwork

"Shapey's work, which was conducted by the composer, was the most profound and expressive work of the evening. The composer-conductor was brought back six times by the appreciative audience."

-The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee Post


The Covenant for Soprano and 16 Players

"The Covenant addresses itself essentially to the contemporary crisis of faith. It does so in a musical language that is often strident, prickly, dense, and convoluted to the ear — but which is absolutely right for what Shapey wishes to say. And what he says has an intensity, seriousness, and underlying vein of humanity that shine through the often thornily dissonant texture."

-John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune


Dimensions for Soprano and 14 Instruments

"You contributed to last night’s concert a work of great Dimensions, and to all three pieces on the program you brought the musicianship of a master. I will always remember February 21, 1967 as a day when the Fromm Foundation was identified with one of the most exciting concerts presented in the fifteen years of its existence."

-Paul Fromm, Fromm Foundation

"…it held the audience hypnotized as if at some primeval ritual. Shapey’s theatrical gestures seldom fail to work, and this piece proved no exception."

-Donal J. Henahan, Musical Quarterly


Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra

"Shapey’s Double Concerto is a thoroughly characteristic work of three movements… its constant rude vigor and febrile life-force elbow their way into one’s consciousness with a visceral power akin to that of Ruggles."

-Musical America

"…made most everything else in the festival sound positively anemic, but then, this composer has never been afraid of Wagnerian pomp and loud noises… the music has a vigorous personality all its own…"

-Peter G. Davis


Incantations for Soprano and Ten Instruments

"One of the most searing, terrifying, and altogether extraordinary compositions this listener has ever heard was played last night… What Mr. Shapey has produced is a composition of abstract expressionism that seems to lay bare the most secret and elemental doubts, yearnings, torments, and despairs of the human soul…"

-Allen Hughes, New York Times

"Ralph Shapey's piece is a chilling affair, with the soprano singing – or rather vocalizing – syllables that don't make words over a terrifying range of long intervals. …The music has an inescapable hold on the listener."

-Library Journal

"Incantations… unleashes primitive forces to any and all gods. One instrumental episode was like a zoo gone mad, another was a ritualistic orgy, a Salome's dance to the tenth power with two percussionists laying down an ostinato barrage…"

-Robert Commanday, San Francisco Chronicle

"Shapey creates and sustains remarkable tension throughout the piece, mainly because his language is uninhibited but never undisciplined. Incantations deserves another hearing."

-Martin Bernheimer, Los Angeles Times

"Hallucinatory night music… increasingly appears as one of the great works of the postwar period."

-Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times

"…musically fascinating and aurally spectacular…"

-Robert F. Duguay, Hartford Times

"…a strong piece by a genuine composer…"

-Donal J. Henahan, Chicago Daily News


Invocation-Concerto for Violin and Orchestra

"…interesting sound and sonority effects are spread over a wide area. The music is coherent and continuous, creating evocative situations and contemplative moods. …The interplay between soloist and orchestra provided lively contrasts and the musical content retained our interest to the end."

-Yohanan Boehm, The Jerusalem Post

"Here the proliferating textures serve to further the communication of a vibrant, white-hot lyricism…"

-Bernard Jacobson, Chicago Daily News


Interchange in Four Movements for Percussion Quartet

"“Interchange”…a percussion piece that hooks the listener not through pummeling volume and frenetic energy but by the intricate interweaving of distinctly audible lines…"

-Anthony Tommasini, New York Times


Ontogeny for Symphony Orchestra

"…pushes economy to the limit by spinning out the entire piece out of one core idea in all its permutations and combinations… generated its own head of steam, coming to a close with an epiphanal tune by solo trombone that was positively shocking in its euphony."

-Donal J. Henahan, Chicago Daily News

"Well, it was pretty great… a muscular and undiplomatic manifesto of individualism, hard-edged declarations and rhythmic barrages with a kind of brawny grace and surprising sensitivity, in the unfolding. …The audience felt the lusty lyricism and gave it a big hand. An exhilarating project, all in all."

-

"Shapey's Ontogeny gave the orchestra a tough assignment. It was "sound-color" music of an amazing complexity, rhythmic force, atmosphere and uninhibited outcry in any and all sorts of timbres, especially the percussive. …its vitality is terrific."

-Alexander Fried


Partita for Violin and 13 Players

"like all of Shapey’s best work, this is also vividly, passionately communicative music…"

-Bernard Jacobson


Partita-Fantasia for Cello and 16 Players

"it explores ultimate verities of musical language and meaning in a way that I find instantly compelling, even though some of its intricacies demand repeated hearing for full comprehension."

-Bernard Jacobson

"…the strength and integrity of [Partita-Fantasia], suggests that it may wear well for many more decades to come."

-John Rockwell, New York Times


Piece for Violin and Instruments

"Ralph Shapey’s short concerto was the principal interest in this concert. It is an excellent piece of writing — the interest never lagged, the music was often exciting."

-Bernard P. Rabb


Rituals for Symphony Orchestra

"…easily the strongest "new" orchestral piece around – a striking combination of orchestral volumes and planes with an improvisatory layer providing a spatial and temporal counterpoint of great impact."

-Eric Salzman, Stereo Review

"…an American masterpiece… a work of this scope demands live performance to be fully appreciated… the whole piece has a shape and focus that are continually impressive."

-John Rockwell, New York Times

"Shapey, in Rituals as well as several other major pieces, achieves the improbable in merging post-Webern ideals of delicacy, serialism and economy with Varese's counter-Webern penchant for using sounds in block form, and for blowing the roof off periodically with percussive climaxes. …The result is ecstatic and thunderous."

-Donal Henahan, New York Times

"…a work of violently expressive character. But beneath the jagged gestures, there is a lyricism that puts the music — for all its thoroughly contemporary harmonic language and motivic organization — firmly in the late-romantic tradition."

-Bernard Jacobson, Chicago Daily News

"Rituals is virile music as well as clamorous, a child of Varese's influence, strong of spine and keen of ear."

-Roger Dettmer, Chicago's American


Songs of Ecstasy for Soprano, Piano, Percussion and Tape

"Ralph Shapey's new work, Songs of Ecstasy, is a beauty. …it is intimate, deeply personal and therefore, immediate in appeal."

-Kathleen Morner, Chicago Sun-Times


Stony Brook Concerto

"Ralph Shapey's joyously inventive Stony Brook Concerto, which sometimes turns an already oddly constituted little orchestra practically inside out, has a blunt, off-the-wall way of lining up a musical argument that this reviewer wouldn't ever pick a fight with. Strong and wonderful stuff, and conducted for dear life by its composer, who is one of the masters among us."

-Richard Buell, Boston Globe


Symphonie Concertante

"Ralph Shapey's ambitious Symphonie Concertante… stunned the audience with its audacity. It was intrepidly daring, a work with originality and verve – adventurous, but grounded in the past. Just as the makers of the Constitution drew on other-century documents …to shape their revolutionary opus, to create Symphonie Concertante, Shapey built on the work of composers we think of as 'old masters.'"

-Martha Thomas, South Star


Trilogy: Song of Songs for Soprano, Baritone, Ensemble and Tape

"There is remarkable variety in the scoring. The work opens with a plaintive cello solo, and virtuosic cadenzas appear throughout the Trilogy. Shapey again shows his fondness for building up densely packed textures which underline the ecstatic climaxes in the text, and then dissolve into moments of lyrical calm… the overriding effect is of lyricism and passion."

-Phillip Huscher, Musical America


Variations for Viola and Nine Players

"Ralph Shapey's Variations for Viola and 9 Players… was the most anticipated piece of the evening, as well as the most persuasive… it is immediately compelling – packed with ideas and bristling with melodic and rhythmic invention."

-Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

"Ralph Shapey's Variations for Viola and Nine Players seemed a distillation of the strong and original master's unmistakable style – discrete, jagged, bracing instrumental colors; vividly prickly phrase contours that yet manage to flow in their weird, unstoppable way; haunted, elegiac slow music; a sound-theater of rhetorical oppositions that exhaust their materials, stop, and then exhaust them still further… Shapey, who conducted, was warmly received by the audience."

-Richard Buell, Boston Globe