Henry Shaw, RIP

Word came over the weekend that Henry Shaw died on Sunday, March 8, 2009, at the age of 90.

His day job was as a violinist with the Cincinnati Symphony, retiring from the orchestra in 1985 after a 47-year tenure. I knew him only as the longest-serving editor of Senza Sordino in ICSOM’s history, and I only knew him through the pages of the 61 issues that he edited and produced.

One of my projects, when I became one of his many successors in 1994, was to produce a complete index of all issues of Senza to date. That project showed me just what a contribution Henry had made to ICSOM. Tom Hall, Henry’s immediate successor when he stepped down as editor in 1982, described him as “our greatest editor” and went on to say that Not only did he serve the longest, he was the first to write some truly important editorials, including ‘The Winds of Change’ and ‘Our Decibel Dilemma.’ The first members of an ICSOM Hall of Fame should be George Zazofsky (ICSOM’s first Chair) and Henry Shaw.”

All of the issues that Henry edited and produced (Volumes 11-20) are available for download on the ICSOM website. They’re interesting as historical documents, of course. But what I find impressive about them – especially as a former editor myself – is the consistency of quality, tone, and reliability. And every one of those issues was produced in close collaboration with a printer using hot-lead typesetting. I can’t imagine producing 61 issues under those conditions, one after the other, at the level Henry did. He must have been a remarkable man.


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