Robert Shaw (April 30, 1916 – January 25, 1999) was an American conductor most famous for his work with his namesake Chorale, with the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Shaw received 14 Grammy awards, four ASCAP awards for service to contemporary music, the first Guggenheim Fellowship ever awarded to a conductor, the Alice M. Ditson Conductor's Award for Service to American Music; the George Peabody Medal for outstanding contributions to music in America, the Gold Baton Award of the American Symphony Orchestra League for "distinguished service to music and the arts," the American National Medal of Arts, France's Officier des Arts et des Lettres, England's Gramophone Award, and was a 1991 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.
Shaw was born in Red Bluff, California. He attended Pomona College, class of 1938. In 1941, he founded the Collegiate Chorale, a group notable in its day for its racial integration. In 1945, the group performed Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the NBC Symphony and Arturo Toscanini, who famously remarked, "In Robert Shaw I have at last found the maestro I have been looking for." Shaw continued to prepare choirs for Toscanini until March 1954, when they sang in Te Deum by Verdi and the prologue to Mefistofele by Boito. Shaw's choirs participated in the NBC broadcast performances of three Verdi operas: Aida, Falstaff and A Masked Ball, all conducted by Toscanini. They can be seen on the home videos of the telecasts of Aida and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (from April 1948, also conducted by Toscanini). Shaw himself took a bow at the end of the Beethoven telecast.