The Autumn Garden dramaturgy: 1949 music

Table of Contents


Hollywood musical: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s On the Town with Kelly, Frank Sinatra, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Stage musicals: South Pacific 4/7 at the Majestic Theater, with Ezio Pinza, Mary Martin, Myron McCormick, Juanita Hall, Betta St. John, William Tabbert, Chattanooga-born Virginia Martin, 29, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book based on James Michener’s tales of U.S. military personnel in World War II posts, songs that include “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Younger than Springtime,” “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair,” “A Cockeyed Optimist,” “Honey Bun,” “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” “Dites-moi Pourquoi,” “There Is Nothing Like a Dame,” “Happy Talk,” “Bali Ha’i,” 1,925 perfs.; Miss Liberty 6/15 at the Imperial Theater, with Eddie Albert, Maria Karnilova, Dody Goodman, Philip Borneuf, music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, songs that include “Let’s Take an Old Fashioned Walk,” 308 perfs.; Her Excellency 6/22 at the London Hippodrome, with Cicely Courtneidge as the British ambassador to a South American country, songs by Manning Sherwin and Harry Par-Davis; Lost in the Stars 10/30 at the Music Box Theater, with Todd Duncan, music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, book based on Alan Paton’s 1948 novel Cry, the Beloved Country, 273 perfs.; Texas, L’il Darlin’ 11/25 at New York’s Mark Hellinger Theater, with Loring Smith, book by John Whedon and Sam Moore, music by Robert Emmett Dolan, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, 293 perfs.; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 12/8 at the Ziegfeld Theater, with Carol Channing as Lorelei Lee, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Leo Robin, book based on the 1925 novel, songs that include “A Little Girl from Little Rock,” “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Bye Bye Baby,” 740 perfs.

Opera: The Pit (dramatic scene for Tenor, Bass, Women’s Chorus, and Orchestra) by Elisabeth Lutyens 4/24 at Palermo; Let’s Make an Opera 6/14 at Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Hall, with music by Benjamin Britten, libretto by Eric Crazier; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf makes her Salzburg Festival debut as the Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s 1786 opera Le Nozze di Figaro. She will continue performing at Salzburg nearly every year until 1964.

Composer Richard Strauss dies at Vienna September 8 at age 85.

Ballet: Beauty and the Beast 12/20 at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, with music by the late Maurice Ravel, choreography by South African-born dancer-choreographer John Cranko, 22.

The first Aspen Music Festival opens at the Colorado ski town, whose summer season will grow to account for 40 percent of its annual income.

First performances: Spring Symphony for Soprano, Alto, and Tenor Soli, Mixed Chorus, Boys’ Choir, and Orchestra by Benjamin Britten 7/9 at Amsterdam; Concerto Symphonique for Piano and Orchestra by Ernest Bloch 9/3 at the Edinburgh Festival; Phantasy for Violin and Piano Accompaniment by Arnold Schoenberg 9/13 at Los Angeles; Concerto for Organ, Brasses, and Woodwinds by Paul Hindemith 11/14 at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

CBS introduces improved long-playing vinyl plastic phonograph records. RCA introduces small 45 rpm LPs that require large spindles. Stereo components (amplifiers, turntables, speakers) enjoy a sales boom. The first LP record catalog is published in October by Cambridge, Mass., record shop proprietor William Schwann, whose 26-page listing of 674 entries from 11 companies will grow in 25 years to list some 50,000 LPs in a book of more than 250 pages.

The People’s Republic of China adopts as its national anthem a song written during the war against Japan 6 years ago; Hebei Province songwriter Cao Huoxing, 25, has added new lyrics to those written by Tian Han and Nie Erh, and the song “Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China” has become familiar to hundreds of millions of Chinese.

Popular songs: “The Hokey Pokey” by Detroit-born songwriter Larry Laprise, 36; “Melodie d’Amour” by French songwriter Henri Salvador; “Bonaparte’s Retreat” by Pee Wee King; “Mañana” by former Benny Goodman guitarist Dave Barbour and his wife, Peggy Lee; “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Bob Hilliard; “I Don’t Care If the Sun Don’t Shine” by Mack David; “Scarlet Ribbons (for Her Hair)” by New York composer Evelyn Danzig, 47, lyrics by Jack Segal (the song will languish until Segal mentions it to Harry Belafonte in 1954); “Mona Lisa” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans; “Huckle-Buck” by Andy Gibson, lyrics by Roy Alfred; “Daddy’s Little Girl” by Bobby Burke and Horace Gerlah; “The Harry Lime Theme” by Anton Karas (for the film The Third Man); “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by U.S. songwriter Johnny Marks, 40, who has adapted a verse written in 1939 by his brother-in-law Robert May for a Montgomery Ward promotional comic book. Former Portsmouth, Va., church choir singer Ruth Brown (née Weston), 21, records “So Long”/”It’s Raining” to begin a notable rhythm & blues career.

Like art, music reflected American enthusiasm tempered with European disillusionment. While the European émigrés Bueno Walter, George Szell, Bela Bartok, Arnold Schoenberg, Paul Hindemith, Kurt Weill, and Nadia Boulanger introduced classical dissonance, American born composers remained more traditional, with Aaron Copland‘s Rodeo (1942) and Appalachian Spring (1944). William Schuman wrote his symphonies #3(1941) through #7(1949).

At the beginning of the decade, Big Bands dominated popular music. Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman led some of the more famous bands. Eventually, many of the singers with the Big Bands struck out on their own. Bing Crosby’s smooth voice made him one of the most popular singers, vying with Frank Sinatra. Dinah Shore, Kate Smith and Perry Como also led the hit parade. Be-Bop and Rhythm and Blues, grew out of the big band era toward the end of the decade. Although these were distinctly black sounds, epitomized by Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Woody Herman.


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