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Musical of the Month


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: "Babes in Toyland"

A Guest Blog by Larry Moore

Original cast of "Babes in Toyland"In the NYPL Rare Books Division, among the Townsend Walsh correspondence, there is an undated 1902 letter from director Julian Mitchell to his publicist/business manager, Townsend Walsh, informing Walsh in confidence that he had asked Glen MacDonough to rewrite the libretto for The Wizard of Oz before it opened at New York's Majestic Theatre at 

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Musical of the Month: "The Wizard of Oz" and Victor Herbert

A Guest Post By Professor William Everett

Billboard advertising "The Wizard of Oz" at the Majestic TheaterThe Wizard of Oz, this month’s Musical of the Month, has ties to one of the most important musical theater composers of its day, Victor Herbert (1859-1924). The Irish-born and German-trained cellist, conductor, and composer had written several significant works for the musical theater in the years leading up to the appearance of The Wizard of Oz, most notably The Fortune Teller (1898).

After producer Fred R. Hamlin and director Julian Mitchell scored 

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Musical of the Month: "Ozma of Oz"

(From "The Tik-Tok Man of Oz" keysheets in the Billy Rose Theatre Division) The end of the year frequently inspires an introspective comparison of one’s ambitions against one’s accomplishments and an increased (if temporary) resolve to close the distance between the two. I suspect among the crowd celebrating in Times Square this Saturday night, there will be at least a few web designers who wish they were actors, bloggers who wish they were novelists, and bankers who wish they were rock stars. Hopefully this will be the year for some of them.

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Musical of the Month: A Production History of the 1903 Oz

A Guest Blog By David Maxine of Hungry Tiger Press

The Wizard of Oz is one of the best-loved fairy tales and one of the best-loved films of all time. Yet few people know that it was a Broadway musical in 1903 that made Oz, Dorothy Gale, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman household names. L. Frank Baum’s children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900, forever securing Baum’s reputation as an author for children. But Baum’s first love was the theatre. In the summer of 

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Musical of the Month: The Wizard of Oz (1903)

Like many who spent their early childhood in those years before home video technology (VCRs, DVDs, Netflix, etc.) became ubquitous, I have fond memories of watching the annual television broadcasts of the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz with my family.  Unlike most children, though, I spent much of my later childhood obsessed with the story.  As a six year old, I became a card-carrying member of The International Wizard of Oz Club, read 

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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, 

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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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