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Douglas Shadle

Associate Professor of Musicology

Douglas W. Shadle’s award-winning scholarship interrogates the roles played by symphony orchestras and orchestral music in American culture, past and present. Valuable for scholars and classical music lovers alike, his work has received coverage in major media outlets throughout the United States and Europe.

His first book, Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise (Oxford, 2016), traces how critics and institutions thwarted efforts to construct a distinct American symphonic repertoire despite robust public support, illuminating what composer-critic Kyle Gann has called “the origins and myriad strategies of the classical music world’s eternal animus against American composers.” Orchestrating the Nation was honored with the American Musicological Society’s inaugural H. Robert Cohen/RIPM Award for its creative use of historical periodicals, as well as the ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomas Award and the Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Award for Research.

Shadle’s second book, Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony (Oxford, 2021), resituates this iconic piece within the political context of early Jim Crow America, giving special attention to the racial dynamics surrounding its creation and reception. Research for the book was featured in the New York Times for the 125th anniversary of the symphony’s premiere and as a clarion call for classical music organizations relaunching after the COVID-19 pandemic hiatus.

A leading authority on fellow Little Rock native Florence B. Price (1887–1953), the first African American woman to earn international acclaim for her compositions, Shadle is contracted to co-author a biography of Price with musicologist-pianist Dr. Samantha Ege for Oxford University Press’s signature Master Musicians series. His previous scholarship on Price has appeared in NewMusicBox and liner notes for the world premiere recordings of her two violin concertos (Albany), Fourth Symphony (Naxos), and Ethiopia’s Shadow in America (Naxos).

Bringing his interest in music criticism to a different type of scholarly venture, Shadle was co-editor, with John R. Schmidt, of A Portrait in Four Movements: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Barenboim, Boulez, Haitink, and Multi (Chicago, 2019)—a posthumous collection of the beloved Chicago Sun-Times critic Andrew Patner’s best reviews of the Chicago Symphony and interviews with its conductors. Shadle’s introduction to the volume is the first published history of the orchestra’s first century in operation.

Shadle has welcomed collaborations on audience engagement materials for a wide range of organizations, including the Berlin Festspiele, BBC Proms, Hallé Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati May Festival, Tanglewood Festival, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Louisville Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Black Hills Symphony Orchestra, Shriver Hall Concert Series, President James K. Polk Home and Museum, and Nashville-based contemporary music groups Intersection and chatterbird.

He currently sits on the Boards of Directors of the American Musicological Society and the International Florence Price Festival.