Alan Menken and his Disney film scores

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Alan Irwin Menken (born July 22, 1949) is an American musical theatre and film composer and pianist who is best known for his scores for films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Pocahontas which have each won him two Academy Award, as well as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and others. Menken was born in New York CIty, NY, on July 22, 1949, to a Jewish family, the son of dentist Norman Menken and his wife Judith, grew up in suburban New Rochelle, and developed an interest in music at an early age, studying piano and violin. He began with the music of Beethoven and Brahms, was later taken by the new folk movement, then added rock’n’roll and virtually anything else to his ever-expanding musical universe.

Menken went to New Rochelle High School in New Rochelle, NY, and attended college as a pre-med student, but later changed his focus to music at New York University’s Steinhardt School where he earned a music degree. After college, he attended the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop. He performed his own material in local clubs, hoping to become “a singer-songwriter in the Peter Allen / Billy Joel / Elton John / James Taylor / Jackson Browne mode” while working to support himself by as a composer of jingles and as an accompanist for ballet classes. Menken married to Janis Roswick-Menken, a former professional ballet dancer, in 1972, and the couple has two daughters, Anna and Nora.

In the late 1970s, Menken wrote several shows that were successfully showcased, but were not produced. Menken’s first major professional work was with lyricist Howard Ashman for the Off-Broadway 1979 WPA Theatre production of the play God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, an adaptation of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. This was well received, but three years later, he achieved greater success with the 1982 Off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors, again with Ashman, for which he earned a Drama Desk Award nomination. Little Shop was adapted for a successful motion picture and later received a Broadway run. In 1983, Menken received the BMI Career Achievement Award for his body of work for musical theater, including Little Shop of Horrors, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Real Life Funnies, Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy (produced in workshop as Battle of the Giants), Patch, Patch, Patch, and contributions to numerous revues including Personals and Diamonds.

In 1987, Menken’s musical adaptation of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, with lyrics by David Spencer, was produced in Philadelphia. Menken is best known, however, for his work with Walt Disney Pictures scoring numerous films, beginning with Disney animated classic The Little Mermaid in 1989. This was followed by Beauty and the Beast in 1991 and Aladdin in 1992. He also wrote music for the Disney live-action film Newsies in 1992. Still in 1992, the WPA Theatre produced Menken’s Weird Romance, also with lyrics by Spencer. Menken’s 1994 musical based on the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Mike Ockrent, debuted at Madison Square Garden’s Paramount Theater. The show proved successful and is becoming an annual New York holiday event. Menken received both Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for the music to the stage musical version of Beauty and the Beast which opened on Broadway in 1994. The score for Pocahontas followed in 1995.

Menken was named a Disney Legend in 2001. More recently, he has provided the score for Disney’s Enchanted (2007). A musical version of The Little Mermaid opened on Broadway in January 2008. Menken’s Sister Act the Musical was produced in London, 2009. and Disney’s latest animated film Tangled in 2010. Menken received the 2,422nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 10, 2010. He has received dual Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song on four of his Disney projects. With eight Academy Award wins (four each for Best Original Score and Best Original Song), only composer Alfred Newman with nine wins, has received more Oscars than Menken in a music category.

My collection contains the following works by Alan Menken:

Aladdin: Symphonic Suite.
Beauty and the Beast: Symphonic Suite.
Hercules (1997): Songs.
Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996): Songs.
Pocahontas (1995): Just Around the Riverbend and Colors of the Wind.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

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Edward MacDowell and the Indian Suite

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Edward Alexander MacDowell (December 18, 1860–January 23, 1908) was an American composer and pianist of the Romantic period who is best known for his second piano concerto and his piano suites Woodland Sketches, Sea Pieces, and New England Idylls. Born into a Quaker family of Scottish descent on December 18, 1861, in New York City, the son of Thomas MacDowell, a milkman, and Frances “Fanny” Knapp MacDowell, who was musically inclined, he received his first piano lessons at age eight from Juan Buitrago, a Colombian violinist who was living with the MacDowell family at the time. He later received lessons from friends of Buitrago, including the Venezuelan pianist and composer Teresa Carreño and the Cuban pianist Pablo Desverine. When he was fifteen, his family moved to Paris, France, where in 1877 he was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire. He earned one of the conservatoire’s scholarships awarded to foreign students and gained admission to Antoine François Marmontel’s studio. Marmontel was one of the most sought-after piano teachers of the time, and he accepted only thirteen students, including MacDowell, out of 230 applicants.

MacDowell then continued his education at Dr. Hoch’s Conservatory in Frankfurt, Germany, where he studied piano with Carl Heymann and composition with Joachim Raff. When Franz Liszt visited the conservatory in 1879 and attended a recital of student compositions, MacDowell performed some of his own compositions, along with a transcription of a Liszt symphonic poem. After Heymann’s retirement in 1881, MacDowell began his professional career as a teacher at the Conservatory. He resigned a year later, but continued to teach piano privately at “Schmitt’s Akademie für Tonkunst” in Darmstadt (now known as the “Akademie für Tonkunst”) for a year. In 1884, MacDowell married Marian Griswold Nevins, an American who was one of his piano students in Frankfurt for three years. About the time that MacDowell composed a piano piece titled “Cradle Song,” Marian suffered an illness that resulted in her being unable to bear children.

The MacDowells lived in Germany for several years, settling first in Frankfurt, then in Wiesbaden. From 1885 to 1888 MacDowell devoted himself almost exclusively to composition. His First Piano Concerto (1885) won him praise from none other than Franz Liszt, for whom he played it at Weimar and continued to gain him recognition when he performed it with the Boston Symphony upon his return to the States. Driven in part by financial difficulties, he decided to return to America in the autumn of 1888. For the next eighteen years MacDowell built a career as a respected teacher and composer. His early symphonic poems include Hamlet and Ophelia (1885), Lancelot and Elaine (1888), Lamia (1889), and The Saracens (1891). In 1889 he played in New York City the first performance of his Second Piano Concerto in D Minor, his most successful larger work, one that retains popularity throughout the world.

The MacDowells, encouraged in 1888, Benjamin Johnson Lang, a close family friend, lived in Boston, then the center of concert life in America, until 1896. Among the compositions penned by MacDowell during this period was his Indian Suite, op. 48 (1896), for orchestra, one of his most famous works. Then MacDowell became professor of music at Columbia University, a position which he held until 1904. In addition to composing and teaching, from 1896 to 1898 he directed the Mendelssohn Glee Club and composed some music for the group to perform. As the sole music professor at the university for nearly two years, MacDowell also served as the department’s administrator. In addition to teaching, he also started an all-male chorus at Columbia in order to raise artistic standards of college glee clubs and music societies.

In 1896 the MacDowells purchased Hillcrest Farm, to serve as their summer residence in Peterborough, New Hampshire. MacDowell found his creativity flourished in the beautiful setting. In a cabin built on this property, he composed his Woodland Sketches, op. 51 (1896), for piano. His compositions included two piano concertos, two orchestral suites, four symphonic poems, four piano sonatas, piano suites, and songs. He also published dozens of piano transcriptions of mostly 18th century pre-piano keyboard pieces. From 1896 to 1898, MacDowell also published 13 piano pieces and 4 partsongs under the pseudonym of Edgar Thorn. In 1904, MacDowell was one of the first seven people chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. After this experience, the MacDowells envisioned establishing a colony for artists near their summer home in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

MacDowell was also a noted teacher of the piano, and his students included John Pierce Langs, a student from Buffalo, NY with whom he became very close friends. Langs was also close to noted Canadian pianist Harold Bradley, and both championed MacDowell’s piano compositions. The linguist Edward Sapir was also among his students. In 1904, after serious disputes with Murray Butler (the new president of Columbia) regarding the role of the university’s music program, MacDowell resigned from the post. Also in 1904, an accident in which MacDowell was run over by a Hansom cab may have contributed to failing health. This ended his composing and teaching career. The Mendelssohn Glee Club raised money to help the MacDowells. Friends launched a public appeal to raise funds for his care; among the signers were Horatio Parker, Victor Herbert, Arthur Foote, George Whitefield Chadwick, Frederick Converse, Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan and former President Grover Cleveland.

Marian MacDowell cared for her husband to the end of his life. In 1907 she founded the MacDowell Colony by deeding the Hillcrest Farm to the newly established Edward MacDowell Association. She led the Association and Colony for more than 25 years, building its endowment through resuming her performing career, and creating a wide circle of support, especially among women’s clubs and musical sororities. During this time, however, Edward MacDowell’s health had deteriorated, and he died on January 23, 1908, at New York City with burial at the MacDowell Colony, which Marian had established at Hillcrest Farm. The MacDowell Colony continues to honor his memory by supporting the work of other artists in an interdisciplinary environment and remains today a mecca for artists seeking a stimulating and reflective environment for creative work. MacDowell was one of the first American composers to achieve any degree of international fame.

The following works by Edward MacDowell are included in my collection:

Hamlet and Ophelia, op. 22 (1884).
Hexentanz, op. 17 No. 2 (2nd of two Fantasy Pieces for solo piano, 1884).
Lamia, op. 29 (Symphonic Poem).
Piano Concerto No. 1 in am, op. 15 (1882).
Piano Concerto No. 2 in dm, op. 23 (1889).
Romance for Cello and Orchestra, op. 35.
Suite No. 1 for Large Orchestra, op. 42 (1893).
Suite No. 2, op. 48, Indian (1892).
To a Wild Rose (from Woodland Sketches).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Hans Christian Lumbye and his “Champagne Galop”

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Hans Christian Lumbye (May 2, 1810 – March 20, 1874) was a Danish composer of hundreds of waltzes, polkas, mazurkas, marches, and galops, among other forms of dance music. He was born in 1810 at Copenhagen, Denmark. As a child, he studied music in Randers and Odense, and by age 14 he was playing the trumpet in a military band. In 1829, he joined the Horse Guards in Copenhagen, while still continuing his music education, and wrote his first pieces in his twenties. At the same time he played in the City Orchestra. In 1839, he heard a Viennese orchestra play music by Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss I, after which he began to compose in the style of Strauss, eventually earning the nickname “The Strauss of the North”. In 1840 he formed his own orchestra with 22 players and started performing in one of the prestige hotels in Copenhagen

From 1843 to 1872, he served as the music director and in-house composer for Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen. Such was his popularity in the Danish capital that many Danes revered him and considered Johann Strauss II as the “Lumbye of the South”. Leading his orchestra from the violin, Lumbye patterned his concerts in his native Copenhagen after the manner of Strauss and is best known for his light compositions, many of which evoke non-musical sources. The Champagne Galop, for example, begins with the “pop” of a champagne cork, and the Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop faithfully recreates the sounds of a train chugging out of a station and grinding to a halt at the next stop. Lumbye also toured abroad and collaborated with the famous choreographer August Bournonville, with ballet music that includes the final Galop from Napoli. Other sparkling and melodious compositions that are still popular include his Drømmebilleder, Amélie Waltz, and many others including a number of fantasies.

Lumbye performed with his orchestra throughout the summer until his final years, and was himself a popular Stehgeiger or standing violinist. In the winter the orchestra played in the indoor entertainment establishments of the city. They also went on tours to Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Stockholm, and St Petersburg. His music has charm, humor, and inventiveness that is a match for his models in Vienna, but it is not so much waltzes that dominate his output as faster dances like galops, polkas, and mazurkas. He was the father of two musician sons, Carl Christian (1841-1911) and Georg August (1843 – 1922), who took over his orchestra after his father’s death. His grandson Georg Høeberg was an important Danish conductor at Det kongelige Teater. In 1872 failing health forced Lumbye to lay down his conductor’s baton, and he died in 1874. A fire in 1884 destroyed much of his material, but his musicians were able to reconstruct most of the scores from memory. His Champagne Galop has a status in Denmark on a par with the National Anthem.

My collection contains the following works by Hans Christian Lumbye:

Amelie Waltz (1849).
Britta Polka (1864).
Champagne Galop (1845).
Columbine Polka-Mazurka (1862).
Concert Polka for Two Violins (1863).
Dream Pictures Fantasy (1846).
Copenhagen’s Steam Railway Galop (1847).
The Lady of St. Petersburg Polka (1850).
The Life Guards on Amager Ballet (1871): Finale Galop.
Mon Salut a St. Petersbourg, March for the Danish Civil Guard (1848).
Napoli Ballet (1841): Finale Galop.
Polonaise with Cornet Solo (1847).
Queen Louise Waltz (1869).
Salute to August Bournonville (1869).
St. Petersburg Champagne Galop (1850).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Jean Baptiste Lully and “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme”

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Jean-Baptiste Lully (November 28, 1632–March 22, 1687) was an Italian-French composer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France and is considered the chief master of the French baroque style. Lully was born Giovanni Battista Lulli on November 28, 1632, in Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, modern-day Italy, to a family of millers, Lorenzo di Maldo Lulli, and his wife, Caterina del Sera, a miller’s daughter. His general education and his musical training during his youth in Florence remain uncertain, but his adult handwriting suggests that he manipulated a quill pen with ease. He said that a Franciscan friar gave him his first music lessons and taught him guitar. He also learned to play the violin. In 1646, dressed as Harlequin during Mardi Gras and amusing bystanders with his clowning and his violin, the boy attracted the attention of Roger de Lorraine, chevalier de Guise, son of Charles, Duke of Guise, who was returning to France and was looking for someone to converse in Italian with his niece, Mademoiselle de Montpensier (la Grande Mademoiselle). Guise took the boy to Paris, where the fourteen year-old entered Mademoiselle’s service. From 1647 to 1652 he served as her “chamber boy” (garçon de chambre). He probably honed his musical skills by working with Mademoiselle’s household musicians and with composers Nicolas Métru, François Roberday and Nicolas Gigault. The teenager’s talents as a guitarist, violinist, and dancer quickly won him the nicknames “Baptiste”, and “le grand baladin” (great street-artist).

In the Montpensier home, Lully studied keyboard with Gigault and Roberday, and cultivated a relationship with Michel Lambert, a highly sought-after singer and air de cour composer who served Lully’s patron among other nobles and whose daughter Lully later married. When Mademoiselle was exiled to her estate at St. Targeau in the provinces in 1652 after the rebellion known as the Fronde, Lully “begged his leave … because he did not want to live in the country.” The princess granted his request. By February 1653 Lully had attracted the attention of young Louis XIV, dancing several parts in Isaac Benserade’s Ballet royal de la nuit. As early as 1653, Louis XIV made him director of his personal violin orchestra, known as the Petits Violons (“Little Violins”), which was proving to be open to Lully’s innovations, as contrasted with the Twenty-Four Violins or Grands Violons (“Great Violins”), who only slowly were abandoning the polyphony and divisions of past decades. By March 16, 1653, Lully had been made royal composer for instrumental music, replaciny the Italian Lazarini. His vocal and instrumental music for court ballets gradually made him indispensable. In 1660 and 1662 he collaborated on court performances of Francesco Cavalli’s Xerse and Ercole amante.

When Louis XIV took over the reins of government in 1661, he named Lully superintendent of the royal music and music master of the royal family. From 1661 on, the trios and dances he wrote for the court were promptly published. When he became surintendant de la musique de la chambre du roi in 1661, the Great Violins also came under Lully’s control. He relied mainly on the Little Violins for court ballets. His collaboration with playwright Molière began in 1661 when Lully and Pierre Beauchamp worked on the music and dancing for Les Fâcheux, first performed for Nicolas Fouquet at his sumptuous chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte. In December 1661 the Florentine was granted letters of French naturalization. Thus, when he married the daughter of the renowned singer and composer Michel Lambert in 1662, Giovanni Battista Lulli declared himself to be “Jean-Baptiste Lully, escuyer [squire], son of “Laurent de Lully, gentilhomme Florentin [Florentine gentleman]”. Lully then disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period.

More theatrical collaborations between Moliere and Lully followed, such as Le Mariage forcé, La Princesse d’Élide, and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, some of them conceived for fetes at the royal court, and others taking the form of incidental music (intermèdes) for plays performed at command performances at court and also in Molière’s Parisian theater. In 1672 Lully broke with Molière, who turned to Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Having acquired Pierre Perrin’s opera privilege, Lully became the director of the Académie Royale de Musique, that is, the royal opera, which performed in the Palais-Royal. The first tragédie lyrique, Cadmus et Hermione, with libretto by Quinault and music by Lully, was performed April 27, 1673. Between 1673 and 1687 Lully produced a new opera almost yearly and fiercely protected his monopoly over that new genre. After Queen Marie-Thérèse’s death in 1683 and the king’s marriage to Mme de Maintenon, the king’s enthusiasm for opera dissipated, and in 1686 Lully was not invited to perform Armide at Versailles. The following year, Lully struck his foot with his long conducting staff during a performance of his Te Deum to celebrate Louis XIV’s recovery from surgery. Infection set in, and he died from gangrene in Paris on March 22, 1687. His body was buried in the church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, where his tomb with its marble bust can still be seen. All three of his sons (Louis Lully, Jean-Baptiste Lully fils, and Jean-Louis Lully) had musical careers as successive surintendants of the King’s Music.

Lully’s music, known for its power, liveliness in its fast movements, and its deep emotional character in its sad movements, was written during the Middle Baroque period, 1650 to 1700. Typical of Baroque music is the use of the basso continuo as the driving force behind the music. Some of his most popular works are his passacaille (passacaglia) and chaconne which are dance movements found in many of his works such as Armide or Phaëton. Through his collaboration with playwright Molière, a new music form emerged during the 1660s: the comédie-ballet which combined theater, comedy, incidental music and ballet. The instruments in Lully’s music were: five voices of strings such as dessus (a higher range than soprano), haute-contre (the instrumental equivalent of the high tenor voice by that name), taille (baritenor), quinte, basse), divided as follows: one voice of violins, three voices of violas, one voice of cello, and basse de viole (viole, viola da gamba). He also utilized guitar, lute, archlute, theorbo, harpsichord, organ, oboe, bassoon, recorder, flute, brass instruments (natural trumpet) and various percussion instruments (castanets, timpani). Lully created French-style opera as a musical genre (tragédie en musique or tragédie lyrique). He also wrote grand motets for the royal chapel, Ballets de cour for court ballets, and instrumental works including various sets of dances from his stage works and 18 Trios pour le coucher du Roi. Lully’s pupils included Pelham Humfrey, Georg Muffat, J. S. Kusser, and J. K. F. Fischer, who carried the French orchestral style to England, Germany, and the rest of Europe.

The following works by Jean-Baptiste Lully are included in my collection:

Ballet d’alcidiane et Polexandre (1658): Prologue et 6 Entrée.
Ballet de Xerxex (1660).
Ballet des Plaisirs (1655).
Ballet du Temps (1654): Air pour l’Este et ses suivants.
L’Amour Malade (1657): 4 Entrée.
Le Bourgeous Gentilhomme (1670): Chaconne des Scaramouches, Frivelins, et Arlequins.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Andrew Lloyd Weber and his “Variations”

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Andrew Lloyd Webber (born March 22, 1948) is a British composer and impresario of musical theatre, born in Kensington, London, the elder son of William Southcombe Lloyd Webber (1914–1982), a composer and organist who was the director of the London College of Music, and Jean Hermione (née Johnstone; 1921–1993), a violinist and pianist. His younger brother, Julian Lloyd Webber, is a renowned solo cellist. A true prodigy, early in life Lloyd Webber played the piano, the violin (at age 3) and the French horn, and started writing his own music at the young age of six, composing a suite of six pieces at the age of nine. He also put on “productions” with Julian and his Aunt Viola in his toy theatre, which he built at Viola’s suggestion. Later, he would be the owner of a number of West End theatres, including the Palace. His aunt Viola, an actress, took him to see many of her shows and through the stage door into the world of the theatre. He also had originally set music to Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats at the age of 15. In 1965, Lloyd Webber was a Queen’s Scholar at Westminster School and studied history for a term at Magdalen College, Oxford, although he abandoned the course in Winter 1965 to study at the Royal College of Music and pursue his interest in musical theatre.

Lloyd Webber’s first collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice was The Likes of Us, a musical based on the true story of Thomas John Barnardo. Although composed in 1965, it was not publicly performed until 2005, when a production was staged at Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton Festival. Stylistically, The Likes of Us is fashioned after the Broadway musical of the ’40s and ’50s; it opens with a traditional overture comprising a medley of tunes from the show, and the score reflects some of Lloyd Webber’s early influences, particularly Richard Rodgers, Frederick Loewe, and Lionel Bart. In this respect, it is markedly different from the composer’s later work, which tends to be either predominantly or wholly through-composed, and closer in form to opera than to the Broadway musical.

In 1968, Rice and Lloyd Webber were commissioned to write a piece for the Colet Court preparatory school, which resulted in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a retelling of the biblical story of Joseph in which Lloyd Webber and Rice humorously pastiched a number of musical styles such as Elvis-style rock’n’roll, Calypso, and country music. Joseph began life as a short cantata that gained some recognition on its second staging with a favorable review in The Times. For its subsequent performances, Rice and Lloyd Webber revised the show and added new songs to expand it to a more substantial length. This culminated in a two-hour long production being staged in the West End on the back of the success of Jesus Christ Superstar. In 1969 Rice and Lloyd Webber wrote a song for the Eurovision Song Contest called “Try It and See,” which was not selected. With rewritten lyrics it became “King Herod’s Song” in their third musical, Jesus Christ Superstar (1970).

The planned follow-up to Jesus Christ Superstar was a musical comedy based on the Jeeves and Wooster novels by P. G. Wodehouse. Tim Rice was uncertain about this venture, partly because of his concern that he might not be able to do justice to the novels that he and Lloyd Webber so admired. After doing some initial work on the lyrics, he pulled out of the project and Lloyd Webber subsequently wrote the musical with Alan Ayckbourn, who provided the book and lyrics. Lloyd Weber married Sarah Hugill on July 24,1972, but they divorced on November 14, 1983. Lloyd Webber collaborated with Rice once again to write Evita (1978 in London/1979 in U.S.), a musical based on the life of Eva Perón. In 1978, Lloyd Webber embarked on a solo project, the “Variations”, with his cellist brother Julian based on the 24th Caprice by Paganini.

Lloyd Webber embarked on his next project without a lyricist, turning instead to the poetry of T. S. Eliot. Cats (1981) was to become the longest running musical in London, where it ran for 21 years before closing. On Broadway, Cats ran for eighteen years, a record which would ultimately be broken by another Lloyd Webber musical, The Phantom of the Opera. Starlight Express (1984) was a commercial hit, Lloyd Webber wrote a Requiem Mass dedicated to his father, William, who had died in 1982. It premiered at St. Thomas Church in New York on February 24, 1985. Lloyd Webber received a Grammy Award in 1986 for Requiem in the category of best classical composition. Pie Jesu from Requiem achieved a high placing on the UK pop charts.

Cricket (1986), also called Cricket (Hearts and Wickets), reunited Lloyd Webber with Tim Rice to create this short musical for Queen Elizabeth’s 60th birthday, first performed at Windsor Castle. Several of the tunes were later used for Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard. Lloyd Webber also premiered The Phantom of the Opera in 1986, inspired by the 1911 Gaston Leroux novel. He wrote the part of Christine for his then-wife, Sarah Brightman, whom he had married on March 22, 1984, and who played the role in the original London and Broadway productions alongside Michael Crawford as the Phantom. Charles Hart wrote the lyrics for Phantom with some additional material provided by Richard Stilgoe, with whom Lloyd-Webber co-wrote the book of the musical. Aspects of Love followed in 1989, a musical based on the story by David Garnett. The lyrics were by Don Black and Charles Hart and the original production was directed by Trevor Nunn. Aspects had a run of four years in London, but closed after less than a year on Broadway.

Lloyd Weber and Brightman divorced in 1990, and he married Madeleine Gurdon in Westminster on February 9, 1991. Lloyd Webber was knighted by Elizabeth II in 1992. Lloyd Webber was asked to write a song for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and composed “Amigos Para Siempre — Friends for Life” with Don Black providing the lyrics. This song was performed by Sarah Brightman and José Carreras. Lloyd Webber had toyed with the idea of writing a musical based on Billy Wilder’s critically acclaimed movie, Sunset Boulevard, since the early 1970s when he saw the film, but the project didn’t come to fruition until after the completion of Aspects of Love when the composer finally managed to secure the rights from Paramount Pictures. The composer worked with two collaborators, as he had done on Aspects of Love; this time Christopher Hampton and Don Black shared equal credit for the book and lyrics. In 1994, Sunset Boulevard became a successful Broadway show, opening with the largest advance in Broadway history, and winning seven Tony Awards that year.

In 1998, Lloyd Webber released a film version of “Cats”, which was filmed at the Adelphi Theatre in London. In 1998 Whistle Down the Wind made its debut, a musical written with lyrics supplied by rock legend Jim Steinman. In 1999, Lloyd Webber and Mike Batt provided the main soundtrack for Watership Down, the animated series adaptation of Richard Adams’ novel of the same name. His The Beautiful Game opened in London in 2000 but has never been seen on Broadway. The show has been re-worked into a new musical, The Boys in the Photograph, which had its world première at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in April 2008. Lloyd Webber produced Bombay Dreams with Indian composer A. R. Rahman in 2002. On September 16, 2004, his production of The Woman in White opened at the Palace Theatre in London. In September 2006, Lloyd Webber was named to be a recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors with Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, Steven Spielberg, and Smokey Robinson.

Lloyd Webber accepted the challenge of managing the UK’s entry for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Moscow. In early 2009 a series, called Eurovision: Your Country Needs You, was broadcast to find a performer for a song that he would compose for the competition. Jade Ewen won the right to represent Britain, winning with It’s My Time, by Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren. On October 8, 2009, Lloyd Webber launched the musical Love Never Dies, a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. His awards include seven Tonys, three Grammys including Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Requiem, seven Oliviers, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, two International Emmys, the Praemium Imperiale, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre and the Kennedy Center Honor. His company, the Really Useful Group, is one of the largest theatre operators in London. Lloyd Webber is also the president of the Arts Educational Schools London, a prestigious performing arts school located in Chiswick, West London.

My collection contains the following works by Andrew Lloyd Weber:

Cats (1981): Magical Mr. Mistoffelees; and Memory.
Evita (1976): Another Suitcase in Another Hall; Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.
Jesus Christ Superstar (1971): I Don’t Know How to Love Him; Superstar.
The Phantom of the Opera (1986): All I Ask of You; The Music of the Night; Phantom of the Opera (title song).
Requiem (1984): Pie Jesu.
Song and Dance (1982): Variations 1-4 (1978).
Starlight Express (1984): Starlight Express (title song).
Tell Me on a Sunday (1979): Take That Look off Your Face; Tell Me on a Sunday (title song).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Henry Litolff and his Concertos Symphoniques

litolff
Henry Charles Litolff (August 7, 1818–August 5, 1891) was a piano virtuoso, composer of Romantic music, and music publisher. Litolff was born on Aug. 7, 1818, in London, England, the son of a Scottish mother, Sophie Hayes, and an Alsatian father, Martin Louis Litolff. His father was a dance violinist who had been taken to London by the English as a prisoner after being captured while serving as a bandsman for Napoléon during the Peninsular War in Spain. Henry began his musical education under his father. The adverse circumstances of the Litolff family placed the son as a laborer in F W Collard’s piano factory where he later demonstrated pianos, and his practicing was so impressive that Collard recommended Litolff to renowned Bohemian virtuoso pianist Ignaz Moscheles. As a result, in 1830, when he was twelve he played for Moscheles, who was so impressed that he gave him free lessons starting that same year. Litolff developed into a prodigy and began to give concerts when he was fourteen. His lessons with Moscheles continued until Litolff eloped in 1835, at the age of 17, to Gretna Green, to marry 16-year-old Elisabeth Etherington. For a time, his wanderings and temporary residencies were the life of a flamboyant concert pianist, teacher and conductor in cities and countries throughout Europe, The couple moved to Melun, and then to Paris.

François-Joseph Fétis, head of the Brussels Conservatoire, invited Litolff to come teach, so Litolff separated from Elisabeth in 1839 and moved to Brussels. Around 1841 he moved to Warsaw where he is believed to have conducted the Teatr Narodowy (National Theatre) orchestra. In 1844 he travelled to Germany, and gave concerts at Berlin. At one point he had a nervous breakdown and lived with the Von Bülow family in Dresden, in exchange for which he taught the young future great pianist-conductor Hans von Bülow to play the piano. The following year, he returned to England with the idea of finally divorcing Elisabeth; but the plan backfired and he ended up not only heavily fined but imprisoned. He managed to escape on a fishing boat and flee to the Netherlands, however, where he enjoyed some success as pianist and a composer, particularly with his Concerto Symphonique no. 3, which employed Dutch songs.

Sometime during 1846 Litolff visited Braunschweig, Brunswick, briefly, where he became a friend of the music publisher Gottfried Meyer and his wife Julie. This friendship proved to be of lasting value to Litolff who returned to Braunschweig in 1849 on the occasion of Meyer’s death, after which Litolff married his widow in 1851 (after finally being granted a divorce from Elisabeth as a new citizen of Brunswick). Meyer’s will had appointed Litolff as executor, and from that point he was accepted as a family member, even legally adopting the eldest son, Theodor. Litolff assumed control of the publishing firm, attached to it his own own name (‘Litolff’s Verlag’), and settled in Braunschweig where he ran a series of music festivals. . It was through his work as a publisher that he would come into contact with some of the great musicians of his time. But business life did not appeal to Litolff, and 1855 he entered the employment of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. This second marriage lasted until 1858, when he divorced Julie and once again moved to Paris, giving many concerts on his way. In 1860, he married Louise, daughter of Count Wilfrid de la Rochefoucauld.

In Paris Litolff’s career became more limited, corresponding to the gradual decline of the popular piano virtuoso and the overcrowded field. Conducting and operatic composition captured most of his creative activity. A distinct change was perceptible as Litolff gradually settled into Parisian musical life. The former flamboyance and the erratic behavior disappeared, and in their place there appeared a humble and mature musician who ultimately won considerable respect from many segments of musical life in Paris. But the operatic field remained inaccessible to him, although several of his operas were performed. Thus it seems that it was mainly for financial reasons that he maintained a studio for teaching piano, although he managed to be chef d’orchestre at the Opéra from 1867 to 1870. Since his success as an operatic composer had been limited he now restricted himself to the composition of operetta. After the death of his third wife, Louise, he continued to live for some time in Paris where he was the conductor of an orchestra in a small theatre in the suburbs. Falling ill shortly afterwards, he was nursed back to health by a young girl whom he married later in the same year at Nogent-sur-Marne. She was seventeen and he fifty-eight.

The final fifteen years of his life were spent in semi-retirement, sporadically guest-conducting, teaching, and composing operettas. His health was feeble and, aside from moments of revival, the career which had begun so flamboyantly ended in obscurity. Besides his four marriages, the final one in 1873, he befriended many musicians including the renowned piano teacher at the Paris Conservatoire Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmermann, the piano builder Jean Henri Pape, the music critic François-Joseph Fétis, composers Hector Berlioz and Franz Liszt, and the Parisian conductor Jules Étienne Pasdeloup, He died at Bois-Colombes near Paris on August 5, 1891, just two days before his 73rd birthday. His death was a symptom of the demise of this versatile type of musician—performer and composer—and occurred at the end of the era in which the piano had been the dominating force.

Litolff is often perhaps more often remembered for his contribution as a Romantic pianist and publisher and for the exemplary musical company he kept, than for his own compositions, although in recent years his Concertos Symphoniques, integrating the two forms, have witnessed something of a renaissance. He is most widely known, and, to most music-lovers, solely known, for the brilliant Scherzo No. 4 of that series. Among Litolff’s finest surviving compositions are the four Concertos Symphoniques, German several operas, some overtures, a couple of large-scale choral works such as the Drame symphonique No. 1 Maximilien Robespierre, Op. 55, lieder, chansons, 117 short characteristic piano pieces, and a little chamber music including 19 “songs” for violin and piano. There were actually five concertos symphoniques; the first one, in D minor, was lost.

The following works by Henry Litolff are included in my collection:

Concerto Symphonique No. 3 in EbM, op. 45, National Hollandais (c. 1846).
Concerto Symphonique No. 5 in cm, op. 123 (1870).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

1/2014 news from Home School Book Review

If you love to read or are interested in finding good books for your children (and perhaps weeding out some bad ones), check out Home School Book Review Blog ( http://homeschoolbookreviewblog.wordpress.com ). It’s the place for book reviews, primarily of children’s and youth literature, from a Biblical worldview.

There are currently 2,906 posts which you can search for favorite titles or authors, and you can also find books in different categories. New reviews are added regularly as books are read.

Some of the books reviewed in January of 2014 include the following:

January 30, 2014–Favorite North American Indian Legends
January 29, 2014–Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Book 2
January 28, 2014–What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions
January 25, 2014–The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Rushmore Treasure
January 24, 2014–Henry Reed, Inc.
January 23, 2014–The Picture of Dorian Gray
January 21, 2014–The Lamplighter
January 15, 2014: Jonathan Park Book 3: Return to Hidden Cave
January 11, 2014: Brenwyd Legacy, Book 1: Finding Truth
January 10, 2014: Kingdom Keepers, Book 1: Disney After Dark
January 8, 2014: Dead Chest Island: The Secrets Begin, Volume 1
January 7, 2014: Merlin’s Blade

Each month we give out a “Book of the Month” award. For January, 2014, the award goes to:

brenwyd

The Brenwyd Legacy: Finding Truth by Rosemary Groux.

It was hard choice because there were so many good ones.

Books that we are currently reading and will be reviewed soon include the following:
How We Got the Bible by Neil R. Lightfoot
Incredible Pirate Tales edited by Tom McCarthy
Protecting Marie by Kevin Henkes
Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Blue Jacket by Allan W. Eckert.

Happy reading!