The Star Spangled Banner
Francis Scott Key
Arranged by John Williams
The Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy during the War of 1812. Key wrote the lyrics to the melody of an old English drinking song, reusing the piece, which was a common practice in the 19th century. However, the Star Spangled Banner was not adopted as America’s national anthem until a congressional resolution was signed by President Herbert Hoover in 1831. This version was arranged by John Williams in 2004, and was first performed by Williams as Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade for the Rose Bowl Opening Ceremonies.
As an interesting aside, Williams arranged the piece again in 2014 for the song’s 200th anniversary.
Arranged by Bob Krogstad
This medley includes some of Broadway’s most famous show stoppers. The piece opens with "There’s No Business Like Show Business" from Annie Get Your Gun by Irving Berlin, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek salute to the flash and sparkle of the show business life. This leads directly into the rock-inspired opening to The Phantom Of The Opera by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, which is played as the scene shifts from the condemned opera house and ruined chandelier to the time of the Phantom. Next follows "One" from A Chorus Line by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban showing the cast of unique characters have all become the same faceless background players.
Fun fact: A Chorus Line was the longest-running production on Broadway until surpassed by Cats in 1997. It remained the longest-running Broadway musical originating in the U.S. until overtaken by Chicago in 2011. To this day it is the sixth longest-running Broadway show ever.
Curtain Up! continues with "Don’t Rain On My Parade" from Funny Girl by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne. This song was performed by Barbra Streisand in both the original stage and film versions, and became an iconic piece for her. Then comes "If He Walked Into My Life" from Mame by Jerry Herman sung by the title character as she laments her choices and how they affected her nephew Patrick after he was thrust into her care. The piece closes with "Everything’s Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy by Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne details archetypal stage mother Rose’s plan to try and build a show around her plain older daughter Louise after her other daughter June elopes and leaves her mother’s plans for her behind.
A Tribute To Romberg
Arranged and adapted by Douglas Mac Lean
Orchestrated by F. Campbell-Watson
Romberg was born as Siegmund Rosenberg to a Jewish family, Adam and Clara Rosenberg, in Gross-Kanizsa during the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal monarchy period. In 1889 Romberg and his family moved to Belišće, which was then in Hungary, where he attended a primary school. Influenced by his father, Romberg learned to play the violin at six, and piano at eight years of age. He enrolled at Osijek gymnasium in 1897, where he was a member of the high school orchestra. He went to Vienna to study engineering, but he also took composition lessons while living there. He moved to the United States in 1909 and, after a brief stint working in a pencil factory, was employed as a pianist in cafés.
He eventually founded his own orchestra and published a few songs, which, despite their limited success, brought him to the attention of the Shubert brothers, who in 1914 hired him to write music for their Broadway theatre shows. That year he wrote his first successful Broadway revue, The Whirl of the World. He then contributed songs to several American musical adaptations of Viennese operettas, including the successful The Blue Paradise in 1915. Even more successful was the musical Maytime, in 1917. Both involved love across generations and included nostalgic waltzes, along with more modern American dance music. At the same time, Romberg contributed songs to the Shuberts' popular revues The Passing Show of 1916 and The Passing Show of 1918 and to two vehicles for Al Jolson: Robinson Crusoe, Jr. in 1916, an extravaganza burlesqueing the familiar story, and Sinbad in 1918, an Arabian Nights-themed musical. Romberg wrote another Jolson vehicle in 1921, Bombo. He wrote the music for the musical comedy Poor Little Ritz Girl, which also had songs by Richard Rodgers.
Romberg's adaptation of melodies by Franz Schubert for Blossom Time in 1921 was a great success. He subsequently wrote his best-known operettas, The Student Prince in 1924, The Desert Song in 1926 and The New Moon in 1928, which are in a style similar to the Viennese operettas of Franz Lehár. He also wrote Princess Flavia in 1925, an operetta based on The Prisoner of Zenda. His other works including, My Maryland in 1927, a successful romance; Rosalie in 1928, together with George Gershwin; and May Wine in 1935, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, about a blackmail plot; and Up in Central Park in 1945, are closer to the American musical in style. Romberg also wrote a number of film scores and adapted his own work for film.
Columbia Records asked Romberg to conduct orchestral arrangements of his music (which he had played in concerts) for a series of recordings from 1945 to 1950 that were issued both on 78-rpm and 33-1/3 rpm discs. These performances are now prized by record collectors. Naxos Records digitally remastered the recordings and issued them in the U.K. (They cannot be released in the U.S. because Sony Music Entertainment, which is a parent company of Columbia Records, holds the copyright for their American release.) Much of Romberg's music, including extensive excerpts from his operettas, was released on LP during the 1950s and 1960s, especially by Columbia, Capitol, and RCA Victor. Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, who appeared in an MGM adaptation of The New Moon in 1940, regularly recorded and performed his music. There have also been periodic revivals of the operettas.
Romberg died in 1951, aged 64, of a stroke at his Ritz Towers Hotel suite in New York City and was interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. Romberg married twice. Little is known about his first wife, Eugenia, who appears on a 1920 federal census form as being Austrian. His second wife was Lillian Harris, whom he married on March 28, 1925, in Paterson, New Jersey. They had no children. Lillian Harris was born March 8, 1898, and died April 15, 1967, in New York City.
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
Arranged by Calvin Custer
This single was released by Stevie Wonder in 1973. The song became Wonder's third number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and his first number-one on the Easy Listening chart. It won Wonder a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, and was nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. This was the second single released from the 1972 album entitled Talking Book, which stayed at number one on the R&B charts for three weeks.
Rolling Stone ranked the song #281 on their list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". The first two lines of the song are sung, not by Wonder, but by Jim Gilstrap; Lani Groves sings the next two. The single version of the song differs from the album version with the addition of horns to the mix; this version also made into the Greatest Hits LP Original Musiquarium.
Selections From Ragtime
Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty
Arranged by James Kessler
Ragtime is a musical with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty. The music includes marches, cakewalks, gospel and ragtime. Based on the 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime tells the story of three groups in the United States in the early 20th century: African Americans, represented by Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Harlem musician; upper-class suburbanites, represented by Mother, the matriarch of a white upper-class family in New Rochelle, New York; and Eastern European immigrants, represented by Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia. Historical figures, including Harry Houdini, Evelyn Nesbit, Booker T. Washington, J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Stanford White, Harry Kendall Thaw, Admiral Peary, Matthew Henson, and Emma Goldman, are represented in the stories.
The musical had its world premiere in Toronto, where it opened at the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts (later renamed the Toronto Centre for the Arts) on December 8, 1996, the brainchild of Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky and his Livent Inc., the Toronto-production company he headed. The US Premiere was in Los Angeles in 1997 and ran one year before opening on Broadway on January 18, 1998 as the first production in the newly opened Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Directed by Frank Galati and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, Ragtime ran for two years, closing on January 16, 2000, after 834 performances and 27 previews. The original cast included Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marin Mazzie, Peter Friedman and Audra McDonald, who were all nominated for Tony Awards, and also included Judy Kaye, Mark Jacoby and Lea Michele. The production was conducted by David Loud.
The production received mixed reviews, many critics noting that the dazzling physical production (with an $11 million budget, including fireworks and a working Model T automobile) overshadowed problems in the script. Ben Brantley's review in the New York Times was headlined "A diorama with nostalgia rampant." It led the 1998 Tony Awards with thirteen Tony Award nominations, but Disney's The Lion King won as Best Musical. The musical won awards for Best Featured Actress (McDonald), Original Score, Book, and Orchestrations. According to The New York Times, "The chief competition for The Lion King was Ragtime, a lavish musical." The New York Times also noted that "The season was an artistic success as well, creating one of the most competitive Tony contests in years, with a battle in almost every category capped by the titanic struggle for the best musical award between Ragtime with 13 nominations and The Lion King with 11." The Broadway production was not financially successful, and some Broadway insiders consider its lavish production to have been the financial "undoing" of Livent.
The Music Man – Symphonic Impressions
Arranged by Richard Hayman
The Music Man is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to the naive Iowa townsfolk, promising to train the members of the new band. Harold is no musician, however, and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons. Prim librarian and piano teacher Marian sees through him, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love. Harold risks being caught to win her.
In 1957, the show became a hit on Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances. The cast album won the first Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and spent 245 weeks on the Billboard charts. The show's success led to revivals, including a long-running 2000 Broadway revival, a popular 1962 film adaptation and a 2003 television adaptation. It is frequently produced by both professional and amateur theater companies.
My Fair Lady
Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe
Arranged by John Whitney
My Fair Lady is a musical based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins, a phoneticist, so that she may pass as a lady. The original Broadway, London and film versions all starred Rex Harrison.
The musical's 1956 Broadway production was a notable critical and popular success. It set a record for the longest run of any show on Broadway up to that time. It was followed by a hit London production, a popular film version, and numerous revivals. My Fair Lady has frequently been called "the perfect musical".
The musical had its pre-Broadway tryout at New Haven's Shubert Theatre. At the first preview Rex Harrison, who was unaccustomed to singing in front of a live orchestra, "announced that under no circumstances would he go on that night...with those thirty-two interlopers in the pit". He locked himself in his dressing room and came out little more than an hour before curtain time. The whole company had been dismissed but were recalled, and opening night was a success. In 1973, on an episode of her Emmy Award-winning ABC-TV variety series, Julie Andrews recalled that during the New Haven tryout, one of the songs written for the show, "Say A Prayer For Me Tonight" was dropped and then used two years later for the 1958 MGM musical Gigi. My Fair Lady then played for four weeks at the Erlanger Theatre in Philadelphia, beginning on February 15, 1956.
The musical premiered on Broadway March 15, 1956, at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York City. It transferred to the Broadhurst Theatre and then The Broadway Theatre, where it closed on September 29, 1962 after 2,717 performances, a record at the time. Moss Hart directed and Hanya Holm was choreographer. In addition to stars Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews and Stanley Holloway, the original cast included Robert Coote, Cathleen Nesbitt, John Michael King, and Reid Shelton. Harrison was replaced by Edward Mulhare in November 1957 and Sally Ann Howes replaced Andrews in February 1958. The Original Cast Recording went on to become the best-selling album in the country in 1956. The original costumes were designed by Cecil Beaton and are on display at the Costume World Broadway Collection in Pompano Beach, Florida, along with many of the original patterns.
Porgy And Bess Medley
George Gershwin, Du Bose & Dorothy Hayward, and Ira Gershwin
Arranged by John Whitney
Porgy and Bess is an opera by composer George Gershwin, with a libretto written by author DuBose Heyward and lyricist Ira Gershwin. It was adapted from Heyward's play Porgy, itself an adaptation of his 1925 novel of the same name. Porgy and Bess was first performed in Boston on September 30, 1935, before it moved to Broadway in New York City. It featured a cast of classically trained African-American singers - a daring artistic choice at the time. After suffering from an initially unpopular public reception due in part to its racially charged theme, a 1976 Houston Grand Opera production gained it new popularity, and it is now one of the best-known and most frequently performed operas.
Gershwin read Porgy in 1926 and proposed to Heyward to collaborate on an operatic version. In 1934, Gershwin and Heyward began work on the project by visiting the author's native Charleston. In a 1935 New York Times article, Gershwin explained why he called Porgy and Bess a folk opera: "Porgy and Bess is a folk tale. Its people naturally would sing folk music. When I first began work in the music I decided against the use of original folk material because I wanted the music to be all of one piece. Therefore I wrote my own spirituals and folksongs. But they are still folk music – and therefore, being in operatic form, Porgy and Bess becomes a folk opera." The libretto of Porgy and Bess tells the story of Porgy, a disabled black street-beggar living in the slums of Charleston, South Carolina. It deals with his attempts to rescue Bess from the clutches of Crown, her violent and possessive lover, and Sportin' Life, her drug dealer. The opera plot generally follows the stage-play.
In the years following Gershwin's death, Porgy and Bess was adapted for smaller scale performances. It was adapted as a film in 1959. Some of the songs in the opera, such as "Summertime", became popular and frequently recorded songs. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the trend has been toward productions with greater fidelity to Gershwin's original intentions. Smaller-scale productions also continue to be mounted. A complete recorded version of the score was released in 1976; since then, it has been recorded several times.
Selections From The King And I
Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
Arranged by Bob Lowden
The King and I is the fifth musical by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. It is based on Margaret Landon's novel, Anna and the King of Siam, which is in turn derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The musical's plot relates the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher hired as part of the King's drive to modernize his country. The relationship between the King and Anna is marked by conflict through much of the piece, as well as by a love to which neither can admit. The musical premiered on March 29, 1951, at Broadway's St. James Theatre. It ran for nearly three years, making it the fourth longest-running Broadway musical in history at the time, and has had many tours and revivals.
In 1950, theatrical attorney Fanny Holtzmann was looking for a part for her client, veteran leading lady Gertrude Lawrence. Holtzmann realized that Landon's book would provide an ideal vehicle and contacted Rodgers and Hammerstein, who were initially reluctant but agreed to write the musical. The pair initially sought Rex Harrison to play the supporting part of the King, a role he had played in the 1946 film made from Landon's book, but he was unavailable. They settled on the young actor and television director Yul Brynner.
The musical was an immediate hit, winning Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actress (for Lawrence) and Best Featured Actor (for Brynner). Lawrence died unexpectedly of cancer a year and a half after the opening, and the role of Anna was played by several actresses during the remainder of the Broadway run of 1,246 performances. A hit London run and U.S. national tour followed, together with a 1956 film for which Brynner won an Academy Award, and the musical was recorded several times. In later revivals, Brynner came to dominate his role and the musical, starring in a four-year national tour culminating in a 1985 Broadway run shortly before his death.
Christopher Renshaw directed major revivals on Broadway (1996), winning the Tony Award for Best Revival, and in the West End (2000). A 2015 Broadway revival won another Tony for Best Revival. Both professional and amateur revivals of The King and I continue to be staged regularly throughout the English-speaking world.
West Side Story – Selection For Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim
Arranged by Jack Mason
West Side Story is a musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and conception and choreography by Jerome Robbins. It was inspired by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.
The story is set in the Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City in the mid-1950s, an ethnic, blue-collar neighborhood (in the early 1960s much of the neighborhood would be cleared in an urban renewal project for the Lincoln Center, changing the neighborhood's character). The musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The members of the Sharks, from Puerto Rico, are taunted by the Jets, a white gang. The young protagonist, Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre. Bernstein's score for the musical includes "Something's Coming", "Maria", "America", "Somewhere", "Tonight", "Jet Song", "I Feel Pretty", "A Boy Like That", "One Hand, One Heart", "Gee, Officer Krupke", and "Cool".
The original 1957 Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince, marked Sondheim's Broadway debut. It ran for 732 performances before going on tour. The production was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1957, but the award for Best Musical went to Meredith Willson's The Music Man. Robbins won the Tony Award for his choreography and Oliver Smith won for his scenic designs. The show had an even longer-running London production, a number of revivals and international productions. A 1961 musical film of the same name, directed by Robert Wise and Robbins, starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won ten, including George Chakiris for Supporting Actor, Rita Moreno for Supporting Actress, and Best Picture.