Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book of the Day: the American musical in the 20th century

Lehman Engel, The American Musical Theater: A Consideration (CBS Records, A CBS Legacy Collection Book/distributed by Macmillan, 1967) LOC R-67-3225/6. 236 pp, hardcover, unclipped dust jacket with $12.50 price. Oblong small quarto size. Ivory paper covered boards. Dust jacket shows light wear along top edges. Introduction by Brooks Atkinson. Well-illustrated in black and white. A longtime Broadway pit conductor chronicles the rise and heydy of Broadway. Slight water spot at bottom right corner of pages knocks this from “very good” status but doesn’t disfigure or impede readability. HBB price: $20 obo.

Engel (1910-1982) was one of Broadway’s most sought after show conductors, leading over 100 shows including hits like ''Showboat,'' ''Brigadoon,'' ''Annie Get Your Gun,'' ''Fanny,'' ''Guys and Dolls,'' ''Carousel'' and many other productions. He wrote four operas, incidental music for over forty plays, recorded some sixty albums, and wrote almost a dozen books on musical theater performance and history. Early in his career he wrote music for Martha Graham’s dance company and conducted the first American performance of The Threepenny Opera. This volume was in print well into the 1970s and remains a source for subsequent theater historians.

Brooks Atkinson (1894-1984) was widely rated the most influential postwar theater critic in America. From 1925 to 1941 he was The New York Times’ drama critic, and again from 1948 to 1960. In between he was a wartime and foreign correspondent, winning a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the beginnings of the cold war in Moscow.


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