Arthur Jacob Arshawsky (May 23, 1910 – December 30, 2004), better known as Artie Shaw, was an American jazz clarinetist, composer, and bandleader. He was also the author of both fiction and non-fiction writings.
Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists," Shaw led one of America's most popular big bands of the late 1930s and early '40s. Their signature song, a 1938 version of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine," was a wildly successful single and one of the era's defining recordings. Musically restless, Shaw was also an early proponent of Third Stream, which blended classical and jazz, and recorded some small-group sessions that flirted with be-bop before retiring from music in 1954.
Born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky in New York City, Shaw grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, where, according to his autobiography his natural introversion was deepened by local antisemitism. Shaw began learning the saxophone when he was 13 years old, and by the age of 16, he switched to the clarinet and left home to tour with a band. Returning to New York, he became a session musician through the early 1930s. From 1925 until 1936, Shaw performed with many bands and orchestras, including those of Johnny Caverello and Austin Wylie. In 1929 and 1930 he played with Irving Aaronson's Commanders, where he was exposed to symphonic music, which he would later incorporate in his arrangements.