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Musical of the Month

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Each month, a libretto of an important early American musical in a variety of electronic formats, plus associated photographs, vocal scores, and the occasional audio file.

Musical of the Month: "Katinka"

A Guest Blog by Project Co-Director, William Everett

A scene from Katinka (photograph by White Studios)Orientalism* and propaganda were common themes in American musical theater and popular song during the years surrounding World War I. Revues frequently included scenes set in the Middle East, and some of Broadway’s most famous composer-lyricists wrote music in direct response to the conflict. Orientalist manifestations include Irving Berlin’s “In My Harem” (1913) 

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Musical of the Month: "The Prince of Pilsen"

A Guest Blog by Project Co-Director, William Everett

Caricature of the Prince from the July 16, 1904 Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic NewsThe German-born composer Gustav Luders (1865-1913) was firmly established in the U.S. when he teamed with librettist-lyricist Frank Pixley (1867-1919) to create The Prince of Pilsen in 1902. The musical comedy, the third of their seven collaborations, was the team's most successful undertaking. (They also created The Burgomeister, 1900; King Dodo, 1901; Woodland, 1904; The Grand Mogul, 1906; Marcelle, 1908; and The Gypsy, 

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Musical of the Month: Listen to the Music!

The text of the next Musical of the Month will be released around the middle of October. However, to tide you over until then, I have several exciting announcements.

First, we can now officially announce that the National Endowment for the Arts has generously funded some of the work of Musical of the Month! In August of 2010, while I was still working at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), musicologist William Everett from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and I applied for a small NEA grant to fund the transcription of music and texts 

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Musical of the Month: Flexible Operetta and Micro-History (Guest blogger Tracey Chessum)

A second blog post from guest blogger Tracey Chessum:

Here’s a question: If John Philip Sousa wrote at least 10 comic operas, most of which were well received not only on Broadway but on tour around the United States, and if he has been identified as a composer who filled the void between Gilbert & Sullivan and Victor Herbert, why have most of us never heard of his musicals? The obvious reason is that his marches outshine his musicals, and thus his collection of comic operas is often overlooked. However, I would argue that there is a further explanation: these 

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Musical of the Month: "Humpty Dumpty" (1868)

(Illustration by Thomas Nast from the Humpty Dumpty clipping file at the New York Public LIbrary for the Performing Arts)Within the world of music theater there are many sub-genres — pop opera, juke-box musical, concept musical, and so on — that go in and out of style as generations transition and audience tastes change. At present, the juke-box musical and musical comedies are very popular; 18 years ago — when I first fell in love with musicals — pop operas like Evita, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera filled out the season schedule 

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Leslie Stuart and the Pirates of "Florodora"

Last year, musical theater composers Georgia Stitt and Jason Robert Brown wrote a couple of high profile blog entries in which they pleaded with their fans to stop illegally sharing the sheet music of their works online. Several national (and international) news organizations followed up with Brown in

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Musical of the Month: Florodora

For July’s Musical of the Month, we take a summer vacation to a tropical island in the Philippines: a place where the scent of a native flower perfumes the air and provides both the place, and the musical, with its name: Florodora. It is the South Pacific in 1900, before the ravages of the Second World War and the social conscience of Rodgers and Hammerstein caused audiences to consider it as anything other than an Edenic garden of delights. Every young man and woman in the piece is beautiful, and the most pressing concerns are not racism and war, but petty swindlers and a tyrannical 

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Musical of the Month: Black Crook Archives

As the month of June draws to a close, it's time to leave The Black Crook and move on to a new Musical of the Month. Before I do, though, I want to take a minute to let those who may have been intrigued by the small samples I’ve posted know how they can find more information about The Black Crook and other historical musicals.

In order to find material related to a musical, you sometimes have to be creative in how you search. For example, most libraries don’t organize material by the title of a play or musical; there is no "Black Crook 

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Musical of the Month: The Music of the Black Crook

From The Library of Congress

 This is the second in a series of posts about the 1866 proto-musical, The Black Crook. See my first post in the series for additional background on the show

Very little is known about the music used in the original production of The Black Crook. Early advertisements feature the scenic effects (TRANSFORMATION SCENE or THE CRYSTAL CASCADE) much more prominently than the music. Spectacular dances (eg. "Pas de Demons" or "Pas de 

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Musical of the Month: The Black Crook

Most musical theater history books cautiously locate the birth of the American Musical at Niblo's Garden (a theater once located on Prince Street) on September 12, 1866 at the opening of The Black Crook. Of course, among many scholars, this identification is regarded as something of a joke — song had been integrated into plays since the early days of Greek drama, and the songs in The Black Crook, at least in its original version, were mostly diversions from the plot — no more related to the action and characters than commercial breaks are to an episode of Glee. Nonetheless, for 

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Announcing: Musical of the Month

Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, my favorite part of the week was visiting the Florissant Valley Public Library and checking out cast recordings. I remember flipping through the bins of LPs, staring down at the big black album with glowing cat eyes, and wondering what in the world that show might be about. It was always a little disappointing when the liner notes were missing or the plot summaries were 

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