The website for Dr Martin Shaw OBE FRCM (1875 –1958)

So, is such posthumous obscurity understandable, or a travesty?

Charlotte Gardener, reviewing The Airmen for the BBC

Questions Answered

Below are some of the questions that have been asked recently. Click on a question to open and close the reply.


Q: Are there recordings of Martin Shaw's work?

A: Yes

recordings of his work are starting to be made. The first collection of Shaw songs is titled ‘The Airmen’. 36 Shaw songs have been recorded by classical music artists Iain Burnside, Roderick Williams, Sophie Bevan and Andrew Kennedy.

See also : Recording Shaw for the First Time...

Q: Is Martin Shaw still in Copyright?

A: Yes, Shaw remains in copyright until 2028. However, it is easy to get copyright permissionfor recordings from the Performing Rights Society

If you wish to obtain out of print sheet music, please contact the Martin Shaw Trust Archivist...

See also:

3 Stories about Copyright...


Q: Is there a Martin Shaw Society?

A: Yes

The Chair of the Trustees is Professor John Harper D. Mus. The charity number is 1173540. It is currently a non-membership organization, aim is to encourage research on Shaw and promote his music. A symposium at the British Library is proposed for September 2017.

Q: Why is there no biography of Martin Shaw?

A: Due to an unfortunate set of Circumstances:

1) advice from Oxford University Press.
In 1960 Shaw’s widow Joan approached OUP (publishers of his reminiscences Up to Now) about writing a biography, and was told: “it is usually rather a disadvantage for a member of the family to write such a book.” The family were advised to wait for a biographer to come along.
2) In the late 1960s a biography was written by Erik Routley and accepted for publication, but was later rejected when the publishers changed hands.
Erik Routley, hymn writer, author and Congregational Minister, wrote a biography. The manuscript was first accepted for publication, then rejected when a new commissioning editor was appointed. The manuscript remains with Routley’s papers at the Talbott Library, Westminster Choir College, Rider University, Princeton, New Jersey under the care of Nancy Wicklund. Routley condensed his biograhy for the publication of A Centary Appreciation of Martin Shaw in 1975.
3) The lack of archive material available to researchers.
The early death of key family members led to the Shaw Archive being looked after by a private individual from 1977. There was a tacit understanding that in return for exclusive access to the Archive a book would be written, but by then the archive was impenetrably disorganized. The Archive was returned to the family in 2008, and acquired by the the British Library in 2011.
It is hoped that this web-site will shed light on a remarkable man with wide-ranging interests and influence on contemporary society, and that with the Archive now available to researchers, a full biography of Martin Shaw will be written in due course.

Q: Is he related to George Bernard Shaw?

A: No

Bernard Shaw’s family came from Ireland, while Martin Shaw’s father, James Shaw, came from Leeds.

Q: Is he related to the British actor Martin Shaw?

A: No

but it would be fun to find out. As he gets older the British actor does bear a resemblance to Shaw’s actor nephew Sebastian Shaw RSC.

Q: How is Martin Shaw Associated with Southwold?

A: Shaw’s life-long association began when a babe-in-arms,

he returned frequently with his family for holidays. The family lived there for two years in the 1880s as a cure for whooping cough.

It was in Southwold that Shaw first met the modernist and theatre designer Edward Gordon Craig, in 1898 - ‘twas in a crowd’ he remembered years later, where they got up a performance of Villon to raise money for some stranded actors.

Shaw continued to return to Southwold for holidays, eventually retiring to an elegant house on the cliffs in 1951, where he died in 1958; his ashes are interred in St Edmund's churchyard.

See full article Martin Shaw and Southwold...

Q Did Shaw perform his own songs at all?

A: Not really.

As a classical composer, Shaw wrote his songs for professional singers He would not have expected to perform his songs - the arrival of the singer/songwriter did not happen until the explosion of popular music in the 1950s.

There is however, one account of him performing his own songs in the 1900s. Adeline Vaughan Williams (Ralph Vaughan Williams' first wife) held an evening recital at their house in Cheyne Walk. This was in the days when Martin was still associated with the theatre, long before his songs had been accepted for publication. Adeline “...arranged the room, having the piano placed so that the marred side of Martin’s handsome face would be turned away from the audience.”

See also: Singing Shaw ...

Q What is the origin of Morning has Broken?

A: Morning has Broken was first published as a hymn in 1931,

when it appeared in Songs of Praise Enlarged. It was created by Martin Shaw and Eleanor Farjeon using the Gaelic tune Bunessan set to an adaptation of Farjeon’s poem of the same name.

See full article on Morning has Broken...


Q: Do you have a picture of Martin Shaw's grave?


His ashes are interred with those of his wife Joan in the crematorium garden of St Edmund's the Martyr, in the small Suffolk coastal town of Southwold.

The stone bears the simple inscription Jubilate Deo.



So, is such posthumous obscurity understandable, or a travesty?

to find the answer to Charlotte Gardener's question, see her review of The Airmen...