Favorite moments from musicals

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jbuck919
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Favorite moments from musicals

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:02 am

As I have posted recently, at least implicitly, I think that the great musicals ended pretty much with West Side Story, or perhaps Oliver. Nothing by Andrew Lloyd Webber counts. I also realize that this overlaps with the thread The Great American Soundbook. Nevertheless I cannot keep from coming back to this kind of music, and would welcome any input from other members. (I already know that John F is not interested.)

Mary Martin is famous for creating the role of Peter Pan, but Cathy Rigby, who was a champion Olympic gymnast, studied voice for years to change careers, and is also sensational in the role.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by Belle » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:40 am

This is a topic dear to my heart!! I'm a huge fan of the MGM Freed Unit. And this, "The Pirate", is one which hardly gets a mention these days and it's by Cole Porter, for heaven's sake: anyway the film was a huge flop and nobody could really explain why. The music isn't always easy, as you'll hear in this clip, but I love it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAP7e6ObI7c

Vincente Minnelli always managed to make Garland look very attractive in close up in his films; she commented on this fact many times.

This piece doesn't seem to fit into the rest of the film! And I love the fussy, brass orchestration of Conrad Salinger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEVJubw ... whTmA&t=16

I absolutely adore this from "Easter Parade"!! Again orchestrated by Salinger and with artistry par excellence:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xxfm5-zRHo

John F
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by John F » Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:18 am

:mrgreen:
jbuck919 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:02 am
As I have posted recently, at least implicitly, I think that the great musicals ended pretty much with West Side Story, or perhaps Oliver.
As you say, I'm not interested, but a colleague volunteer at the performing arts library is as enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the Broadway musical as I am about opera, and he would disagree. He says his favorite, recently revived on Broadway and shown on PBS, is "She Loves Me" by Harnick and Bock, which is later than West Side Story. However he would agree with the general view that Stephen Sondheim and others like him killed off the classic musical as a living genre, and if so, that happened somewhat before the emergence of Andrew Lloyd Webber and rock musicals which go in the opposite direction from Sondheim. My friend has no use for Webber either.

As it happens, one of the musicals I can abide and even enjoy is by Sondheim, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." I was lucky enough to see it during the first run with Zero Mostel, but it wasn't just him. Others I like are more operettas than musicals, "My Fair Lady" and "Candide"; operettas generally are more to my taste. As for musicals of the last 50 years, I wouldn't know because I've had better things to do with my time. :mrgreen:
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Belle
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by Belle » Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:45 pm

Apart from a couple of songs, I'm not a fan of Stephen Sondheim's musicals; too many words and too much fast babble. It's talk accompanied by music and that's something you either like or you don't. An evening with Gilbert and Sullivan is beyond me for that very reason. The Gershwins did it sometimes but it worked for them because much of it was satirical as in "Pardon my English" and "Strike up the Band". In the former, the funny "Dresden Northwest Mounted" is one such number.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41Yhfx9W0FE

Then there's this wonderful love song, which surely influenced Sondheim and others! Ira Gershwin wasn't the greatest lyricist, but he was perfect for George:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0E3ILIorV8

jbuck919
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:06 pm

I agree about Sondheim, though he wrote the lyrics only for West Side Story. Incidentally, he along with Donald Trump was a graduate of New York Military Academy, in the town where I grew up, Cornwall, NY. From that town I was taken by what was then called the Enrichment Group to see his musical Company starring among others Jane Russell, but though at the time it was the hottest thing on Broadway, I never did get the point.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by jserraglio » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:19 pm

Sweeney Todd, with a masterful score and book. Kiss Me, Kate my favorite of all, Cole Porter my choice of composer and lyricist. I am lucky to live within driving distance of Wooster College's Ohio Light Opera which runs an extensive operetta fest every summer: lots of Kalman, Herbert, Offenbach.

https://issuu.com/lpcpub/docs/olo_2017_ ... 5/50148113

I also like Hamilton. A lot!

Belle
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by Belle » Fri Nov 10, 2017 8:43 pm

Cole Porter is also my choice of composer and lyricist!! Except that I think "West Side Story" is the greatest musical ever composed. Here's an interesting documentary about Porter which I may have already posted before, some time ago. A personal view from Howard Goodall:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2htSTN1crU

Actually, when you listen to the song "Anything Goes" you can see where Sondheim was coming from!

jbuck919
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:31 pm

Cole Porter is a rare exception of someone who did his own orchestrations. Richard Rodgers did not do his, though of course Bernstein did. One of my grad school teachers was Maury Yeston, whom most of you probably have never heard of. His dream was to write Broadway musicals, which he ultimately realized. He even wrote his own version of Phantom of the Opera. Although it was entirely a classical music curriculum, he would often refer to Cole Porter (a Yale graduate), which drove us nuts at the time.



Speaking of Bernstein, he wrote this song for some version or other of aforementioned Peter Pan. It was supposed to be sung by Peter to Wendy (a name, incidentally, made up from the whole cloth by J.M. Barrie). It was never performed that way, but only Bernstein could have gotten away with the intention.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jbuck919
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:52 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:18 am
:mrgreen:
jbuck919 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:02 am
As it happens, one of the musicals I can abide and even enjoy is by Sondheim, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." I was lucky enough to see it during the first run with Zero Mostel, but it wasn't just him. Others I like are more operettas than musicals, "My Fair Lady" and "Candide"; operettas generally are more to my taste. As for musicals of the last 50 years, I wouldn't know because I've had better things to do with my time. :mrgreen:
John, I will never understand you on this topic. My Fair Lady is not an operetta. You may be thinking of the fact that Friedrich Loewe started out as an operetta composer. As for A Funny Thing, it may be a hilarious film, but as a musical it is a one-hit wonder like Webber's musicals, though in this case it is not a ballad.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by Belle » Sat Nov 11, 2017 1:32 am

I always felt Sondheim's real forte was lyrics, not so much the music. And the "Funny Thing..." excerpt demonstrated that. Apart from a modulation here or there I heard nothing exceptional. This song is Sondheim's finest achievement, IMO: the opportunity for the singer to fall off the cliff is very real!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXdVO1ko0vY

This performance is a far better one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODqj9Mq39FM

jbuck919
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:44 am

This thread has gotten a little ahead of me and I have to go back and review some things, but today is a national holiday in the US (official Veterans Day). Here is an excellent performance of a show-stopping number from 1776, perhaps a little later than my previous expiry time. The musical was actually written by some pop composer who never did anything like this again. Note the difficult violin obbligato, which requires an accomplished player. There is actually a YouTube that analyzes this number, which I am not posting. The words are, I assume intentionally ironic, because Jefferson's tombstone, which I have seen, is famous, and Martha Jefferson died young after childbirth.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by John F » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:49 am

jbuck919 wrote:One of my grad school teachers was Maury Yeston, whom most of you probably have never heard of.
You're right about that. (I do know about Arthur Kopit, who wrote the words. While a Harvard student he wrote his hit play "O Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You In the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad," premiered in the Adams House dining room.

Have you heard of the musical by Milton Babbitt, that formidable composer and propagandist of 12-tone music? It's based on Homer's "Odyssey," with the title "Fabulous Voyage." I was told by David Hamilton, who heard Babbitt play and sing a couple of numbers from it while he (David) was at Princeton, that it's more or less in the style of Irving Berlin. No, it never made it to Broadway.
jbuck919 wrote:My Fair Lady is not an operetta.
You think not, others including my musicals aficionado at the library agree with me. Why make an issue of it?
jbuck919 wrote: As for A Funny Thing, it may be a hilarious film, but as a musical it is a one-hit wonder
So what? I said I enjoyed the show, which I saw on Broadway before the movie was made; it could be a no-hit wonder for all I care. You have a problem with my taste in musicals? You've known from the beginning that it's very selective and not like yours, so again. De gustibus.
jbuck919 wrote:Cole Porter is a rare exception of someone who did his own orchestrations. Richard Rodgers did not do his, though of course Bernstein did.
Actually, he didn't. Hershy Kay did the orchestrations for "On the Town," "Peter Pan" (not the later score with Mary Martin; my parents took me to see the original Broadway cast with Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff), and "Candide." For "West Side Story," the orchestration was "supervised" by Bernstein but actually done by Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal. The latter two also did much of the orchestration for Bernstein's opera "A Quiet Place," under his "supervision."

http://www.westsidestory.com/site/level ... t/faq.html
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by lennygoran » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:56 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:02 am
As I have posted recently, at least implicitly, I think that the great musicals ended pretty much with West Side Story, or perhaps Oliver.
Well whatever Sue and I have gotten a great deal of enjoyment from alot of more current shows over the years-it's a nice supplement to the operas we go to as we take longer and longer trips into NYC-just last week we enjoyed School of Rock and A Bronx Tale-both very well done. Regards, Len :D

jbuck919
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Re: Favorite moments from musicals

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:28 am

For John F, no, I did not know about that particular musical by Babbitt, who was one of my professors at "the other place," but I did know that he wrote something like hundreds of pop songs to make money, not a single one of which ever made the charts.

One problem I have with My Fair Lady, even though I like it in general, is that some of the numbers are way, way too long ("I could have danced all night," "I'm getting married in the morning.") In comparison, Rodgers and Hammerstein showed a decent economy about the length of their numbers.

I am shocked to learn that Bernstein did not do all his own orchestrations, and thank you for that information.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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