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The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195309478
ISBN-10: 0195309472
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"An invaluable book."-Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal


"Entertaining and meticulously researched. The Sound of Broadway Music is chock full of intriguing facts and juicy anecdotes and offers new insight into the world of musical theatre."-Judy Samelson, Playbill


"One of the most magnificent books our favorite art form has ever had"--Peter Filichia, Theatermania.com


"The problem most orchestrators face: No one understands what they do, how they do it, or even who is doing it.. The Sound of Broadway Music will forever change that for lovers of musical theatre. This is probably the most valuable theatre book ever written about a subject you never considered precious --Matthew Murray, Broadwaystars.com


"Steven Suskin's six hundred and fifty pages of information substantiating the contribution of orchestrators to the music of Broadway is nothing less than jaw-dropping. Their working relationship with the composers of Broadway scores and directors of Broadway shows is fascinating in its detail. There can be no comparable feat of research more meticulous than this valuable addition to the history of American musical theater."--Hal Prince, director


"Backstage has been the unwarranted space where the wondrous talent of orchestrators remained until now. Steven Suskin has meticulously opened the curtain so that this array of musical magicians can finally take their long overdue bow. May this composer be among the first to shout, 'Bravo!'"--Jerry Bock, composer


"Fans as well as musical theatre scholars will be forever indebted to Steven Suskin for this book. It's fascinating, entertaining and an essential addition to the literature of American musical theatre."--Michael Feinstein, composer, performer


"Suskin does an absolutely masterful job of covering a fascinating but obscure, often arcane and frequently technical subject in a manner that makes it not only understandable but thoroughly fascinating to novice and expert alike. A valuable reference work as well as a history and appreciation of a neglected art."--Potomac Stages


"When we speak of the historians who write about theater, no we can put Steven Suskin in the circle of the truly great ones. The Sound of Broadway Music will make us have a greater appreciation every time we listen to a Golden Age of Broadway original cast album."--TheaterMania


"Invaluable...intriguing and well told."--The Sondheim Review


"Suskin does an absolutely masterful job of covering a fascinating but obscure, often arcane and fequently technical subject in a manner that makes it not only understandable but throughly fascinating to novice and expert alike." --DC Theatre Scene


"Offers a detailed appreciation of such technically skilled craftsmen as Hans Spialek...Suskin has produced a charming tribute to such vital, hitherto-forgotten talents as Hershy Kay, Irwin Kostal and Sid Ramin." --Newark Star-Ledger


"[An] engaging narrative." --Fontes Artis Musicae


About the Author


Steven Suskin is the author of numerous books on the Broadway musical, including Show Tunes (OUP, fourth edition released March 2010), Second Act Trouble (Applause, 2006), and the Opening Night on Broadway series. He has written hundreds of columns and reviews for Playbill, Variety and other publications.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195309472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195309478
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 2 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,763,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Marks on April 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steven Suskin delves deeply into the world of orchestration and music preparation, long neglected to be appreciated and understood by the theatergoing public. The author is able to make the information interesting to the layman, and fascinating to the professional. And now that many college and university music programs include theatre music in their curriculums, the histories and methodologies of those who worked during Broadway's "Golden Age" is more important than ever. I only wish this book was around years ago, when I was starting my career in this business!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those of us who listen carefully to orchestrations and think about the people behind the musicals who don't always get recognized, Suskins book is a truly wonderful compendium of the information on the world of orchestrators and orchestrations. From the art of the orchestrator to uncredited collaborators and from the logistics of preparing the music to the the fee per page and royalties comes this along with interesting biographical information. This would be a dream come true except who dared to dream such a book would be conceived, researched or written. The musician, theater-buff, musical historian, and even the back of the house people will enjoy reading more information than has ever been reported on how shows got to sound as they do.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Sound of Broadway Music" is a major contribution to the history of the American musical theater. It is well researched, well written, well organized, and well edited. The index is very comprehensive, with boldface guides to important entries. Steven Suskin is the ideal author for such a book. He has written several fine books on the Broadway musical theater and has many contacts in the theater. He did an enormous amount of research for this book, locating scores and parts, determining who wrote what, and interviewing the few remaining people who were part of the era. The book covers the orchestrators who were active in the "golden age" of the musical (1943-1964) and follows their careers through 2002. The orchestrators who provided the "Broadway sound" are often taken for granted by the public and need to be recognized for their contributions to the theater. Suskin has done this admirably.

The book starts with a brief description of the orchestrator's role. That is followed by sketches of twelve major orchestrators (a dozen shows or more), their "ghosts" and helpers, and other members of the music department. A chapter on the art of orchestration reviews the whole process of orchestrating a show. The major part of the book (about half) is an alphabetical listing of shows, crediting the orchestrators and others who assisted. It includes other show information such as the opening date and number of performances. At the back of the book are a chronology of shows, acknowledgements, sources, and a bibliography, followed by the index mentioned above.

If you have any interest in the golden age of Broadway musicals, this is a wonderful book to have on your shelf. You will find a lot in it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Steven Suskin's comprehensive survey of Broadway orchestrators tells the stories of a remarkably small number of incredibly talented musicians. The Broadway "sound" to which we have become accustomed was the work of perhaps half a dozen orchestrators: Robert Russell Bennett, Don Walker, Phil Lang, Ralph Burns, Robert Ginzler, and Irv Kostal (and a very few others). They could take the raw material of a song and dress it in orchestral colors, turning out as many as 700 pages in a week, workng against impossible deadlines. I was particularly impressed by the amount of "ghosting" by assistants and collaborators. Suskin's detective work led him to search out the individual parts to determine who orchestrated what. I was especially pleased to see an extensive analysis of Ralph Burns, who arrived in the 60's, at the end of the "golden age" of Broadway. His highly original and incredibly well-crafted orchestrations for No Strings, Funny Girl, Little Me, and Chicago changed the way I listened to Broadway shows. There are many other delights to be found here. This book is an absolute treat!
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Format: Hardcover
This book, coupled with the Library of Congress Symposium, hosted by Mr. Suskin, was one of the highlights of my year. I am a 65 year old musical theatre composer (conductor, arranger, orchestrator, pianist) who has been in the business (albeit as an avocation) all my life, mostly at the amateur, college and secondary school levels. The information presented along with the vivid characterizations of the orchestrators (of whom most avid theatre goers are ignorant)is invaluable to the musical theatre student of any age. With all of the excellent conservatory and university musical theatre programs in existence today (in the 1960s many universities thought musical theatre was beneath them), this book should become a standard text book for all musical theatre students in their junior or senior years, after becoming steeped in the musical theatre literature with which the book deals.
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This is a book I never expected to be written. It shows how the music of Broadway was crafted by folks (orchestrators) who never share the glory of stardom and are basically forgotten as soon as a show is in place. They do much of their work while others sleep, having received information about the job at the last minute, and the product generated by that frantic effort often lives on for years. I know - I'm one of them.
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