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Alan Shulman: 1915-2002
Alan Shulman
Cello, composer, arranger

Born: June 4, 1915 in Baltimore, Maryland
Died: July 10, 2002 in Hudson, New York

Alan Shulman, cellist

by Jay Shulman
Copyright © 2002 Jay Shulman


Jay Shulman writes:

American composer, cellist and arranger Alan Shulman died Wednesday, July 10, 2002 of complications from a stroke at a nursing home in Hudson, New York. He was 87.

Born in Baltimore, June 4, 1915, Shulman's early studies were with Bart Wirtz (cello) and Louis Cheslock (harmony) at the Peabody Conservatory. In 1928 the family moved to Brooklyn where Alan played in the National Orchestral Association under Leon Barzin.

He received a New York Philharmonic Scholarship, studying cello with Joseph Emonts and harmony with Winthrop Sargent. From 1932 he attended the Juilliard School where he was a fellowship student, studying cello with Felix Salmond and composition with Bernard Wagenaar.

He joined Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, in 1931.

From 1935-38 Alan Shulman was cellist of the Kreiner String Quartet. In 1938, with his brother Sylvan, a violinist, they founded the Stuyvesant String Quartet which during the 1940s and 1950s were noted for their performances and recordings of contemporary quartets of Bloch, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Malipiero, Hindemith and Kreisler, among others. They played the American premiere of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet and recorded it for Columbia Records.

The Shulman brother's swing septet The New Friends of Rhythm recorded with Buster Bailey for Victor before the war and after with Maxine Sullivan for International Records.

Alan Shulman was a charter member of the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini in 1937-42, serving in the U.S. Maritime Service 1942-45, and rejoining NBC from 1948-54.

During the 1930s and 1940s he was also active as an arranger for Leo Reisman, Andre Kostalanetz, Arthur Fiedler and Wilfred Pelletier's Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air. While in the service he taught orchestration to Nelson Riddle who went on to make celebrated arrangements for Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat "King" Cole. He arranged five cross-over albums for soprano Risë Stevens for Columbia Records 1945-47.

Shulman's first successful composition was Theme and Variations for Viola and Orchestra which received its premiere over NBC in 1941 with Emanuel Vardi as soloist.

Chicago Symphony principal Milton Preves played the work often, and it is in the repertoire of most American viola soloists.

His Suite on American Folk Songs was premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1944 by violinist Eudice Shapiro with pianist Vivian Rivkin. Jascha Heifetz performed and recorded "Cod Liver 'Ile" from the Suite.

Shulman's Pastorale and Dance was first played by his brother Sylvan Shulman over ABC in 1944 and was performed by Oscar Shumsky with the Baltimore Symphony in 1947.

Shulman joined ASCAP in 1948.

Alan Shulman wrote music for children's records (James Thurber's Many Moons), for radio and for motion pictures, including the RKO feature The Tattooed Stranger.

His Threnody was premiered by the NBC String Quartet in 1950.

Shulman's Rendezvous, written for Benny Goodman, was recorded by Artie Shaw with the New Music Quartet for Columbia in 1949 and by Richard Stoltzman with Tashi for RCA/BMG.

Leonard Rose premiered Shulman's Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra with the New York Philharmonic under Dimitri Mitropoulos in 1950. Guido Cantelli conducted the premiere of Shulman's A Laurentian Overture with the Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in 1952. The Overture was dedicated to Talullah Bankhead. Olin Downes in the New York Times called it "boldly and mischievously made."

In 1946 Shulman married pianist Sophie Pratt Bostelmann (1916-1982). They had four children.

Alan Shulman was a founder of the Symphony of the Air (1954), and the Violoncello Society (1956). He was the Society's President 1967-72.

In the 1950s, Shulman wrote popular songs with entertainer Steve Allen and arranged for Skitch Henderson, Raoul Poliakin and Felix Slatkin. During the 1960s and 70s, Shulman was busy in the recording and television studios, and composed teaching material.

He was cellist of the Philharmonia Trio (1962-69) and of the Haydn Quartet (1972-82).

Shulman taught cello at Sarah Lawrence College, Juilliard, SUNY-Purchase, Johnson State College (VT) and the University of Maine. In the 1980s his health declined and he retired in 1987.

Alan Shulman was made a Chevalier du Violoncelle by the Eva Janzer Cello Center at Indiana Unversity in 1997. Alan Shulman is survived by his sons Jay Shulman, a cellist, and Marc Shulman, a guitarist; and daughters Laurie Shulman, a musicologist, and Lisa Shulman.

Alan Shulman's works are published by Chappell/Warner, Piedmont/Presser, Shawnee/Schirmer, Sam Fox, Bregman, Vocco & Conn and Tetra/Jamax.

Bridge Records (9119) has released "The Music of Alan Shulman" a collection of Shulman's orchestra works broadcast by the NBC Symphony 1941-54, conducted by Guido Cantelli, Milton Katims, Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Antek and Don Gillis.

Alan Shulman website:

Jay Shulman
Jay Shulman is a cellist He is the son of Alan Shulman.


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