Archive | Broadway

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year! The songwriter Frank Loesser may be best known for creating the music and lyrics for the 1950 Broadway musical, Guys and Dolls. Three years before that show opened, Loesser wrote the stand-alone song, What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? It has been recorded by countless performers- The Orioles, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, and Barbra Streisand, […]

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Nutcracker Rag: A Sweet Travesty On Tchaikovsky

One of my biggest pet peeves is “cutesy” holiday music which weaves in references to classical music. This time of year, there seems to be no shortage of these kinds of cheap, gimmicky arrangements.  I’m sure you’ve already fallen victim. The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra’s premiere recording of Rick Benjamin’s Nutcracker Rag: A Sweet Travesty On Tchaikovsky doesn’t […]

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Broadway’s Jerry Goldberg Remembers Barbara Cook

Yesterday, my friend Jerry Goldberg shared with me his memories of Barbara Cook, the legendary singer who passed way earlier this week. Jerry spent decades in the Broadway theater as a pianist and conductor, working on such notable shows as A Chorus Line and rubbing shoulders with some of Broadway’s greatest performers. He worked with Cook on […]

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Remembering Barbara Cook

Barbara Cook, the Tony Award-winning lyric soprano who came to prominence during Broadway’s Golden Age and later re-emerged as a star of cabaret and concert hall, passed away yesterday. She was 89. Cook was known for her wide vocal range and her magical ability to color musical phrases and shape lyrics. In her later years, […]

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Music For Midsummer’s Eve

Today is Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden. Held each year around the summer solstice, Midsummer festivities have roots in ancient pagan rituals. With countryside bonfires and maypole dances, Swedes and other Scandinavians mark the beginning of a brief period of warmth and extended daylight after many dark, cold months. This time of year, in northern Sweden the sun […]

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NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17:  Stephen Sondheim attends the New York premiere of 'Merrily We Roll Along' at Regal Union Square Theatre, Stadium 14 on October 17, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Rommel Demano/Getty Images)

Happy Birthday, Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim, the American composer and lyricist, celebrates his 87th birthday today. Last summer, there were rumors that a new Sondheim show, currently in the “workshop” phase, would open this year, off-Broadway. With or without a new work, Sondheim’s contribution to American musical theater is undeniable. With Sondheim, the modern, plot-driven musical (a genre which […]

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Songwriter George Gershwin (1898 - 1937) at a piano.   (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

“Of Thee I Sing”: Gershwin’s Wacky, Tuneful, Political Satire

Today is President’s Day in the U.S. Over the past few years, here at The Listeners’ Club, we’ve marked the occasion with musical portraits of Washington, Lincoln and even Richard Nixon. Today, let’s consider the fictitious presidential candidate John P. Wintergreen who runs on a “love” platform. He’s the goofy protagonist of the 1931 Pulizer-Prize-winning Broadway musical satire Of Thee […]

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Hallelujah, Baby!

“Hallelujah, Baby!”: African-American Civil Rights on Broadway in 1967

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, here are two excerpts from Hallelujah, Baby!, a 1967 Broadway musical which has been described as “a chronicle of the struggle for equality during the [first half of the] 20th century.” The plot of Hallelujah Baby! centers around Georgina, a talented, young African-American woman who is determined to develop a career in show […]

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36-year-old composer Leonard Bernstein, holding musical score with lighted auditorium behind him. He has written two symphonies, a song cycle, jazzy ballet Fancy Free, two Broadway shows (on the Town, Wonderful Town) and is preparing a musical of Candide.  (Photo by Gordon Parks//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Candide at 60

Last Thursday marked the 60th anniversary of the Broadway opening of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, a work based on the novella by Voltaire, which falls somewhere between musical theater and operetta. It isn’t often that an overture stops the show, but that’s one of the details Barbara Cook, who played the role of Cunégonde, remembers from the night of […]

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Kurt Weill’s “September Song” and the Power of Harmony

Even in the case of a popular song, harmony can be as important as melody. For example, listen to the harmonic surprise at the beginning of Richard Rodgers’ If I Loved You from Act 1 of the groundbreaking 1945 musical, Carousel. On the word, “loved,” a sudden, poignant diminished seventh chord takes us to a completely different world. This […]

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