Skip To Content

Paul Shelden, 79, Music Educator Who Founded Instrument Company

(JTA) — As a young clarinetist, Paul Shelden performed under the direction of famed conductors Leonard Bernstein and James Levine. Later he would lend his talents to the work of Bob Hope, Tony Bennett, and the jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat and Tears. And as an academic, he spent more than three decades on the faculty of the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, where he published widely about pedagogy and performance.

But in 2004, at a time when many academics might have been eyeing a gentle glide path into retirement, Shelden’s career took an unusual turn when he founded Diplomatte Musical Instruments, becoming, by his own reckoning, the only person running an instrument manufacturing company with a doctorate in music performance.

Inspired by a trip to China with his wife in 2000, Shelden started Diplomatte in an effort to produce professional-quality instruments at affordable prices.

“My goal was to make the best instruments possible and to take advantage of the talents in China,” Shelden told a trade publication in 2010. “To make good stuff, not junk.”

Shelden died April 17 of COVID-19 at his home in Long Island. He was 79.

Born in Brooklyn in 1941, Shelden studied at The Juilliard School and later earned his doctorate from the University of Maryland. He taught at Brooklyn College for 34 years prior to his retirement. Inspired by Bernstein’s legacy of bringing classical music to young people, Shelden worked with the New York Department of Education for decades to bring thousands of public school students to classical concerts, his son said.

“His accomplishments were mind-blowing, and he could have given us still more,” said Seth Shelden. “But nothing was as important to him as me, and my sister, and my mother.”

Shelden is survived by his wife of 51 years, Pamela Shelden; two children; Seth Shelden and Loren Napoli; and two grandchildren.

The post Paul Shelden, 79, music educator who founded instrument company appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.