Episode #4

Caroline Shaw Lives Life Beautifully

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Caroline Shaw Caroline Shaw (Piotr Redlinski)

Caroline Shaw began her love affair with music at the age of two, when her mom started teaching her violin. Throughout her childhood, Caroline had a lesson every Wednesday afternoon, and sang and played in school and at music camps, falling for chamber music by Mozart and Clara Schumann. Caroline always made things; when she was bowled over by a Brahms sonata, she'd try and figure out how to construct her own sonatas. As a young adult, she continued on a rigorous, violin-centric path, earning both undergrad and masters degrees in violin performance from Rice University and the the Yale School of Music.

But after Yale, her life took a slight detour; Caroline had never stopped writing, and despite having never had a formal lesson in her life, Caroline was accepted to Princeton University's PhD program in composition. Just two years later, at age 30, she became youngest person ever to win the Pulitzer Prize in music. Tune in to find out how Caroline synthesizes old forms with new techniques to create her arresting, beautiful music.


Cameron Beauchamp, Caleb Burhans, Dan Trueman and Brad Wells

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota

Produced by:

Alexander Overington


Thea Chaloner, Curtis Macdonald and Elena Saavedra Buckley

Caroline Shaw Lives Life Beautifully: I. Garden Variety

Caroline Shaw took violin lessons all her life. But after college, she spent a year alone wandering around Europe on a Watson Fellowship and began following a slightly different path.

Comments [1]

Caroline Shaw Lives Life Beautifully: II. Sacred and Profane

Caroline Shaw spent practically all her life studying & playing the violin. But then, two years after enrolling in grad school for composition, she won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Comments [1]

Caroline Shaw Lives Life Beautifully: III. Teethful of Awesome

Caroline talks about her influences while writing Partita for 8 Voices, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and on her involvement with Roomful of Teeth.


Caroline Shaw Lives Life Beautifully: Playlist

The complete breakdown of all the music used for scoring and illustration in Meet the Composer's episode four – Caroline Shaw Lives Life Beautifully.


Comments [8]

Åsmund from Oslo

I've heard this MTC episode twice now, and I bought Shaws partitas album on itunes because of it. I love your show and her music!

Great work! Looking forward to the next episode!

Mar. 24 2015 01:14 PM
Kevin Brady from Alexandria, VA

What is the piece that's behind the talking from the 5 to 7 minute mark? Is it one of Caroline's pieces, because I can't find it on her web site. I am hoping that someone sees this and can help me, because it's one of the most beautiful things I've heard in my life.

Feb. 08 2015 02:54 PM
Matt Broerman from Sarasota, FL

I, like a few I know, was directed here from Radiolab. Podcast listening is a major habit of mine. In this 'renaissance' of podcasting, this one really stands out. As someone who knows next to nothing about contemporary composing, it makes such a difference to hear conversation layered on top of bits of composition. I can't think of another way to get such an experience. Just about every episode motivated me to look more into the composer.

So thanks, for opening the world of contemporary composers to me, and for advancing the form of podcasting. I really hope another batch of episodes is on the way.

Jan. 15 2015 12:08 PM
Joe from Wading River, NY

Wonderfully entertaining, informative and inspiring interview, The best part is that it leads me to explore more Q2 music.

Dec. 14 2014 08:31 AM
Selina Herman from San Diego

Great podcast. There seems to be an issue with skipping for this episode as downloaded on iTunes.

Dec. 04 2014 03:47 PM
T. Hampton Dohrman from San Diego, CA

Thank you for this

Nov. 05 2014 06:58 PM
David from Glasgow

Tremendous work! I heard the John Luther Adams stuff on Radiolab and I am now a mega fan of Meet The Composer. It is very inspiring to listen to and I have discovered some powerful music already.

Keep up the good work

Oct. 14 2014 05:19 PM
Andrew Conkling from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Excellent episode. I've really enjoyed how different the episodes are… each seems to go in a unique direction, whether we end up digging (haha) into string techniques with Andrew Norman or singing the praises (har har har) of vocal techniques with Caroline Shaw.

Will a playlist be available for this episode? I have to hear more! Or is Roomful of Teeth the only available recording of Shaw's music?

Oct. 02 2014 12:53 PM

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