Don Shirley - Orpheus In The Underworld
(FULL ALBUM - OST TRACKLIST GREEN BOOK)
00:00 Band. 1
03:02 Band. 2
04:31 Band. 3
09:59 Band. 4
11:16 Band. 5
13:42 Band. 6
15:31 Band. 7
16:43 Band. 8
18:42 Band. 9
19:51 Band. 10 & 11
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Donald Walbridge Shirley was born on January 29, 1927, in Pensacola, Florida, to Jamaican immigrants: His father, Edwin, was an Episcopal minister, and his mother, Stella, was a teacher. Shirley first showed an interest in the piano at two-and-a-half years old, and by age he was performing on the organ at church. In June 1945, at age 18, Shirley made his concert debut with the Boston Pops, playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat. The London Philharmonic Orchestra performed his first major composition the following year, and in 1949 he received an invite from the Haitian government to play at the Exposition International du Bi-Centenaire De Port-au-Prince.
Despite his training, Shirley in his 20s was dissuaded from pursuing a career as a classical pianist by impresario Sol Hurok, who said the country wasn't ready to accept a black man in that arena. His imagination and deft touch drew praise from musical luminaries like Igor Stravinsky, who cited Shirley's virtuosity as "worthy of the gods," and Duke Ellington, who said he would "give up his bench" at the piano to let Shirley take the reins.
Starting with Tonal Expressions in 1955, Shirley began recording his unique versions of popular favorites like "Blue Moon," "Lullaby of Birdland" and "Love for Sale." He soon embarked on a longtime collaboration with bassist Ken Fricker and cellist Juri Taht, who frequently joined him in the studio and on stage as the Don Shirley Trio. The trio enjoyed a highlight with their self-titled 1961 album, which included the Top 40 hit "Water Boy," and continued recording together through 1972's The Don Shirley Point of View.
Also in 1955, Shirley made his Carnegie Hall debut with Ellington and the Symphony of the Air Orchestra. He went on to perform with the Detroit Symphony, the Chicago Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra over the years, along the way appearing in such prestigious venues as Milan's La Scala Opera House and New York's Metropolitan Opera House. Following the death of his good friend Ellington in 1974, Shirley composed "Divertimento for Duke by Don." Other ambitious creations included his variations on the story of Orpheus in the Underworld, a tone poem based on James Joyce's Finnegans Wake and works for piano, cello and strings.
Shirley, who married once and divorced, never had children. A scene in Green Book shows him handcuffed in a YMCA shower after relations with another man, prompting questions about his sexuality, though he kept this aspect of his life private. Shirley wasn't the only member of his family to achieve professional success; His brothers Calvin and Edward became doctors, while the latter also developed a close friendship with Martin Luther King Jr.
The musician was often called "Dr. Shirley," which, according to a November 2018 New York Times article, may have been due to his honorary degrees, as he never attended graduate school. However, other sources state that Shirley received doctorates in music, liturgical arts and psychology, and briefly pursued a career as a psychologist in the early 1950s. Shirley also reportedly spoke eight languages fluently and was a talented painter. Forced to curtail his output after developing tendinitis in his right hand in the early 1970s, Shirley disappeared from the public eye by the end of the decade. Shirley died from complications of heart disease at his home in New York City, above Carnegie Hall, on April 6, 2013. He was 86 years old.
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