Originally from Philadelphia, I’m a musician and music teacher with a wide range of professional experience, as a jazz pianist, arranger, composer, accompanist, and singer, and as a teacher from elementary school through college. For 28 years, I was a choral director and music teacher in the New York City area, mostly on the high school level. I am also proud to be a performer with the Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company, giving presentations in and around New York City, and across the country.

My teaching and writing is based on the philosophy Aesthetic Realism, which was founded in 1941 by Eli Siegel, poet, critic and historian who stated:

“All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making
one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.”

For example, when jazz improvisation is beautiful it puts together the opposites of freedom and order: we hear spontaneous expression at one with form and structure. And these same opposites I’m trying to make sense of all the time—as every person is. Learning about the opposites, I came to have a new love for jazz and all music, and to understand myself better.

As early as 1925, Eli Siegel wrote about the beauty of jazz as continuous with beauty in music and art anywhere.  One place he expressed that beautifully is in his great 1966 poem Hymn to Jazz and the Like.  I love this poem and recommend it highly!

To see something of more about how Aesthetic Realism explains the beauty and value of jazz, I invite you to watch a video of a talk I’m proud to have given, titled Roughness and Sweetness in Louis Armstrong’s “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love”:

I began studying the Siegel Theory of Opposites while doing my graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music, in classes taught by composer Edward Green. My education continues at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City, including in classes for consultants and associates taught by Ellen Reiss, who is the Chairman of Education at the foundation.

Copyright © 2017 by Alan Shapiro