Conductor Robert Shaw stunned America and the world with the sound he coaxed from the human voice. Self-taught, without formal musical training, Shaw became America’s most celebrated choral conductor and would help build one of the world’s great symphony orchestras.

Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices traces the improbable story of Shaw’s life and career, from his childhood as a preacher’s son in rural California through his meteoric rise to the heights of classical music. Shaw believed everyone could love great music, and for many years brought his ensembles to tiny towns across America. An early champion of civil rights, his integrated chorales were among the first to break the color barrier in the American South. But amidst the triumphs of his musical career, the film reveals the demons that haunted – and sometimes threatened to derail – its complex and flawed protagonist.

Shaw’s eventful journey is brought to life in the film by interviews with fellow musicians, as well as family members, admirers, and friends. A treasure trove of rare archival material immerses us in Shaw’s life and times, and the musical soundtrack is packed with some of the most powerful performances ever recorded. David Hyde Pierce narrates a story the New York Times describes as “poignant and compelling.”


Theatrical Trailer

“Poignant and compelling.”The New York Times

A film by Peter Miller

Narrated by John Lithgow

Based on an idea by Antje Boehmert & Christian Popp Written by Peter Miller Director of Photography Antonio Rossi Editor Amy Linton Sound Recordists Rodolphe Begard, Dan Mazur, Andreas Schlueter, Andy Turret Sound Designer Brit Warner Sound Mixer Christian Riegel Color Grader Knut Schmitz Online Editor Reinaldo Almeida Original Music by Eike Hosenfeld, Moritz Denis, Tim Stanzel Archival Research Elisabeth M. Hartjens, Michelle Gordon, David Stumpp Senior Adviser and Story Consultant Ian Scott Historical Adviser Marja Roholl Associate Producers Jonas Schilling, Amy Linton Commissioning Editors ZDF/ARTE Martin Pieper, Türkân Schirmer Producers Antje Boehmert, Peter Miller, Christian Popp

Special Thanks:

Spencer Alcorn, Thierry Barreau, Alessandro Carroli, Carmen Cobos, Ned Comstock, Thomas Doherty, EDN, Uta Eberhardt, Andrea Ernst, Sandra Garcia-Myers, Kay Hoffmann, Katja Jaeckel & Giorgos Christonakis, Martine Labonde, Madeleine Le Borgne, Valerie Marcus, Frank Mehring, Ouest France, Miranda Parry, Stephanie Pasternak, Wolfgang Pinkl, Judy Preminger, Victoria Riskin, Kim Rojas, Marja Roholl, Heiner Ross, Christian Schwalbe, Ian Scott, Steven Wapen


Victoria Riskin; National Archives, USA; Allison Collection, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History; BFI National Archive; Bundesarchiv; Conseil Général de la Manche arch. Dép.; Conseil Régional de Basse-Normandie; The Cummington Historical Commission; Deutsche Kinemathek; Philip and Amanda Dunne Photographs Collection of the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Getty Images; The Huntington Library; Oren Jacoby; Library of Congress; Heinz Meder; MoMA Film Study Center; New York City Municipal Archives; Michel Ollivier; Miranda Parry; Photofest; Klaus Riemer, Margaret Siebner; SPPN Images; Stadtarchiv Erlangen; Cecile Starr and Aram Boyajian; Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz; UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library, Dept. of Special Collections; L.A. Times Photographic Archives; USC Cinematic Arts Library, Fay Wray Collection ; UN Photo Library; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Willard van Dyke Papers, University of Arizona; Yad Vashem Photo Archive

A co-production of DOCDAYS Productions, Willow Pond Films, ZDF in collaboration with ARTE

Distributed by PBS International – Developed with the support of MEDIA