Obituary: Paul Shelden, clarinetist, administrator, music-education advocate, 79

Posted on: May 12, 2020

“Paul Shelden, a clarinetist whose wide-ranging career took him to Broadway, the White House and a stage shared with Leonard Bernstein, died on April 17 at his home in Hewlett, N.Y., on Long Island,” writes Joshua Barone in Sunday’s (/12) New York Times. “He was 79. The cause was complications of Covid-19…. Not only a performer, Mr. Shelden was also a longtime teacher and administrator at Brooklyn College. And as an advocate for the accessibility of classical music, he worked to bring countless public school students to concerts in New York and founded the company Diplomatte Musical Instruments to offer affordably priced instruments.… As a child, Paul learned to play the clarinet while his identical twin, Aaron, studied the accordion. In 1956, the teenage brothers performed on the television show ‘The Original Amateur Hour,’ hosted by Ted Mack. [At] the Juilliard School, … he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clarinet performance and studied conducting, composition and saxophone. [He] received a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in clarinet performance, literature and pedagogy…. Among the conductors he worked with were Robert Shaw, James Levine and Bernstein—whose famous Young People’s Concerts inspired Mr. Shelden’s later efforts to bring music to children.”