The Broadway Musical: A Critical and Musical Survey

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9780810843769: The Broadway Musical: A Critical and Musical Survey

To see a Broadway musical is to experience how a drama, using melody, harmony, and rhythm, evokes the emotion needed to perpetuate a story line. Without music, many of these plays would not succeed, failing to convey the intended message. This new edition of Swain's classic text, winner of the 1991 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, reveals how a musical drama achieves plot movement, character development and conflict through strategic placement of song and music in 20 musical plays. Unlike critical literature that has simply explored theatrical style and production histories, this survey focuses mainly on the power of music. Illustrated with more than 150 musical excerpts and essays, Swain includes the latest research and viewpoints of contemporary critics, offering insight into dramatic expression and how renowned composers including Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Jerry Bock, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber influenced the Broadway musical.

This provides insights into the many impressive musicals to hit the stage between the years of 1927 and 1987, illuminating how specific revisions to productions such as Showboat and, Oklahoma! forever changed their popularity. Learn how music is used as a symbol for psychological or emotional action from Shakespearean drama's such as Kiss Me, Kate and West Side Story, to more current dramas including Godspell, A Chorus Line, and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Replete with a never seen before essay on Les Misérables, this edition also includes an expanded epilogue highlighting the phenomena behind Miss Saigon and Phantom of the Opera, "megamusicals" that changed the direction of the Broadway tradition.

For professors of dramatic arts and people interested in Broadway musicals, theater, popular music and opera.

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About the Author:

Joseph Peter Swain is associate professor of music at Colgate University. He received his Ph.D. in music at Harvard University in 1983 and has been nominated by the music department for a Lehman Fellowship.

From Library Journal:

A nourishing stew spiced with the variety of "musically valuable" American musicals (e.g., Show Boat, Porgy and Bess, Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Evita, A Chorus Line, Sweeney Todd ), this unique blend of history, criticism , and analysis is valuable for all who concern themselves with this sector of musical culture. The piano-vocal scores used as sources for musical examples will be comprehensible even to musical amateurs since the songs are often so familiar. The musical analyses use sophisticated specialized terminology; would-be composers will easily grasp it, others will learn a lot. The motivation to do so will come from Swain's fascinating arguments on how the music in these dramas carries the stories as much as the words do. A welcome addition to American music history.
- Bonnie Jo Dopp, Dist . of Columbia P.L.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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