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Great American Music: Broadway Musicals | [The Great Courses]

Great American Music: Broadway Musicals

Rodgers and Hart. George and Ira Gershwin. Cole Porter. Lerner and Loewe. For most people who've grown up with and shared America's musical heritage, great songs open the floodgates to memories and feelings. Perhaps nowhere is this more profound than in the world of Broadway musicals, with their iconic melodies and memorable lyrics.Revisit the standards, originally written for the stage, that have both delighted and helped mend the broken hearts of Americans for decades.
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Publisher's Summary

Rodgers and Hart. George and Ira Gershwin. Cole Porter. Lerner and Loewe. For most people who've grown up with and shared America's musical heritage, great songs open the floodgates to memories and feelings. Perhaps nowhere is this more profound than in the world of Broadway musicals, with their iconic melodies and memorable lyrics.

Revisit the standards, originally written for the stage, that have both delighted and helped mend the broken hearts of Americans for decades. These 16 delightful lectures immerse you in the world of Broadway, exploring the intricacies of musical composition and song construction-and how they were used to create specific effects - as well as the social and historical backdrop against which musical theater must be considered.

Much as we often concentrate on the so-called "golden age" of the 1950s, American musical theater spans the history of two vibrant centuries: the era of the minstrel show-whose contributions to American music were immense, in spite of the embarrassment we still feel at many of its images-vaudeville, ragtime, the revue; and the age of fully integrated book musicals launched by the 1927 production of Show Boat.

With examples at the piano, Professor Messenger shows you the soundtrack of America - and for millions of us, the soundtrack of our lives. This insightful and sublimely enjoyable learning experience can forever change the way you experience musical theater.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    L. Burbach Florida, USA 08-22-13
    L. Burbach Florida, USA 08-22-13 Member Since 2012

    Retired economics professor. Looking for something funnier than Republicans bitching about Obama's handling of the economy they created and have done everything possible to keep from recovery hoping to beat the Democrats in 2012. Hard to beat that scenario.

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    "The Best of My 23 Audible Purchases So Far."
    If you could sum up Great American Music: Broadway Musicals in three words, what would they be?

    Joy! Joy! Joy!


    What other book might you compare Great American Music: Broadway Musicals to and why?

    I did love the collected Stories Of William Faulkner, which is longer, but this is more fun. This was my first Great Course, but it won't be my last.


    What about Professor Bill Messenger’s performance did you like?

    He is so exuberant, so talented, and so full of interesting tidbits about the composers who wrote the great American Music that I was devastated when I realized that I had heard it all so many times that I know what comes next. I just wish he would do one now on British Theatre. I couldn't wait to tell friends what fun the course is, and to give a copy to a close friend who loves music.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed at the stories of the ego of Al Jolson, and wanted to cry at the loneliness of Irving Berlin. It's fun now to go to youtube and see Al Jolson and Banjo Eyes, Eddie Cantor, sing the songs that made them famous, and now I know more of their backgrounds. His discussions of the great musicals made me want to get them from Netflix and see them again. If I were younger, I would want to began writing music. Professor Bill Messenger is so talented, it is fun to hear him play selections and sing them. In addition he has other experts play and sing selections. I may want to also get his course on Jazz. My only criticism is that I wish the course was twice as long.


    Any additional comments?

    You don't have to know music or anything about musical Broadway to enjoy this course. You will learn a lot. Who knows? If you are young, you may change your career path to become an Andrew Lloyd Weber, or Rogers or Hart. I believe that the impact of these musicians will outlast the memory of Hitler.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua ASBURY, NJ, United States 10-13-13
    Joshua ASBURY, NJ, United States 10-13-13 Member Since 2011

    Choreographer, Director, Actor, Dancer, Educator. And lover of audio books! They are theatre for the mind!

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    "More than just a lesson on Musical Theatre!!!"

    This fabulous course gives an excellent history of the American musical with the focus placed firmly where it should be... on the music. Professor Messenger's voice is relaxing and knowledge is impressive. He paints the picture of history with both facts and narrative but also gives the audience a taste of the music he is describing through his on piano renditions, recordings from the period, and reconstructed recordings where no original recording exists. As a theatre artist and musical theatre professional, I found this course to be both edifying and enjoyable, which are the two things that any great piece of theatre should be. For this course is more then just a lesson on musical theatre it is a piece of theatre itself.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Indiana, PA, United States 12-07-13
    Dan Indiana, PA, United States 12-07-13 Member Since 2000
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    "Sing Along Worthwhile"

    I learned more about music theory than I ever expected. I learned more about Black-Face and minstrel shows than I would have thought possible. Without the rights, the lecturer was unable to present "all the classics" but he found remarkable ways through interviews and related content to present an astonishing amount of material. An exceptionally informative overview for both novice and fan.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Milwaukie, OR, United States 11-09-13
    Kristi Milwaukie, OR, United States 11-09-13 Member Since 2011

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "Great overview of American Musicals"
    Would you listen to Great American Music: Broadway Musicals again? Why?

    I think I will. The Professor is engaging and plays music, sings and uses old recordings to keep you listening. I liked his inside stories on the different eras and his insights on some of the historical aspects of theater in America.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I learned things about the theater I didn't know. It made me realize that judging people in the past by the way we think nowadays is wrong. We have come along way, but without those in blackface making a living in the theater, it may have died before I got to enjoy it.


    What about Professor Bill Messenger’s performance did you like?

    His playing and singing of some great songs.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Too long for that but just perfect for about 45 minutes a day.


    Any additional comments?

    My husband's grandmother was in the Gaiety Girls in England and came to America in 1915.
    She never went back and was in some early shows on Broadway. I am a fan of Musicals and wanted to gain more insight on what the life was like in the early days. Excellent course!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Bremerton, WA, United States 12-15-13
    Peter Bremerton, WA, United States 12-15-13 Member Since 2010
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    "An eye opening listen."

    For one who is not versed or trained in music, I found Professor Messengers' lectures not only informative and enlightening, but also quite entertaining. I have listened to them twice and will venture into them many more times.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Houston, TX, United States 01-16-14
    Kelly Houston, TX, United States 01-16-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Great lecture. Lousy singing."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Professor Messenger is an entertaining lecturer, but for this audio recording he should've hired a friend or asked one of his students to do the singing. He sings about half of the songs himself. He doesn't even sing them, in fact. He speaks them. After the historical build-up, the listener aches to hear a rousing rendition, but we must suffer through Messenger's interpretations. It stops the show cold every time.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The author should've gotten a singer to interpret the songs for him.


    Could you see Great American Music: Broadway Musicals being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Ken Burns should definitely do a documentary on the subject.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon CHICAGO, IL, United States 11-10-13
    Shannon CHICAGO, IL, United States 11-10-13 Member Since 2005

    sohara28

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    "Great music, trivia and history"

    I loved this series. Professor Messenger has a wealth of knowledge, a pleasant voice, a trove of old recordings and a cast of musicians and singers on call.

    We learned of the origins of musical theater in revues, minstrel shows and musicals.

    Many different performers, composers and lyricists are discussed, including Gershwin, Rogers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Al Jolson, Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor and many more. Andrew Lloyd Weber even rates a bit of discussion in the last lecture.

    I learned a lot, and I loved listening to the music.

    As a person who has never taken any sort of music class, there were parts of two lectures that I didn't fully understand. Professor Messenger discussed phrasing (AABC, AABB, and/or some other patterns that I couldn't hear) and he discussed blue notes, which I think I did understand.

    Those were the only even moderately technical discussions. The rest of the series involved history, themes, current events, race relations in the theater and the world, as well as other topics easily understood by anyone.

    I am sure that I will listen to this very enjoyable series again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Reitter Outside Philly, PA 06-04-14
    Michael Reitter Outside Philly, PA 06-04-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Engaging speaker, love the detail."
    What made the experience of listening to Great American Music: Broadway Musicals the most enjoyable?

    The history and detail made it most enjoyable, especially on long trips. Comprehensive back story greatly added to the recording.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Historical details were excellent and brought the stories to relevance.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Bill Messenger’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    this was my first recording, and I would enjoy others by him.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The history of theatre ended too soon, in the 70s. Even then, the "history" was sparse. I would have enjoyed bringing his high level of detail to the present day composers and how they relate to the older.


    Any additional comments?

    The segments were well arranged and logically made sense. Thanks!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Smith South Texas 02-07-14
    A. Smith South Texas 02-07-14 Member Since 2013

    Scrapbook Mama

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    "Entertaining and informative"
    Where does Great American Music: Broadway Musicals rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Fairly high. I have listened to several of the Great Courses and generally select from the choices in the History category. Because of my love of Broadway, I stepped outside of my box and was delighted in what I found!

    Professor Messenger is charming and clearly loves his subject. He plays many of the tunes and sings along. He covers Broadway music and shows from the 19th and 20th centuries, giving us example after example. He tells personal stories of the performers and composers, bringing history to life. I wanted to travel in time to see the shows he describes.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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