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.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses
Choreographer. Director. Actor. Educator. And lover of audio books! They are theatre for the mind!
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.
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.
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.
I love listening and usually get in at least three hours a day. I like fiction, biographies and medical non-fiction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
His playing and singing of some great songs.
Too long for that but just perfect for about 45 minutes a day.
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!
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.
The author should've gotten a singer to interpret the songs for him.
Ken Burns should definitely do a documentary on the subject.
Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.
My parents were both born in 1917, which means they would have turned 100 years old this year. They were both musically gifted, and I grew up listening to "their songs," songs from the early 20th century. So this little walk through the earliest Broadway musicals was like revisiting my childhood in so many ways. I was amazed at how many of those songs I knew from hearing my dad sing to my mom's piano accompaniment. My mom played by ear in the style known as "strider." Honestly, when I heard Bill Messenger playing in that style, I could have sworn it was my mother.
So I guess I had a personal stake in this course. I learned way more than just what I remembered from my parents, however, and had so much fun doing it. Although I am a classically trained musician, I love a very wide variety of music including music from the Broadway stage, and I have performed my share of it. But to hear it all explained as Mr. Messenger explained it gave my music history-loving heart many "ah-ha" moments. Such a fun course. I recommend it to everyone, but especially to baby boomers who, like me, have some basis for loving the music from old musicals, and learning more about the plays, the actors/musicians and just how it all got started.
I always look with skepticism at reviewers who give both the story and the performance five stars but overall four stars, and yet here I am doing just that. Here is the reason. Many of the examples that Mr. Messenger played on the piano were of such poor fidelity that it was very hard to listen to. I kept thinking that of all the examples, which included very old recordings, why would his modern ones be so distorted??? I hope at some point they remaster those and bring them up to the quality they deserve.
I'm listening to Proust now. Always on the lookout for a good zombie, horror, or sci-fi book. Like books on writing, history, travel.
I really thought it might be a bore, but it paints such a great picture of the history of 20th century music, not only the broadway musical. Professor Messenger is super articulate, but natural too. Plays the piano to give us snippets of songs, adds a little musical theory. No probably for the first time in my life, I want to go explore these musicals.
The lectures were very good. The professor spent too much time in the 19th century and first two decades of the 20th century. He did well but I would have hoped to hear more about musicals after 1980. It would've been a bit more interesting overall.
Well organized, complex but unpretentious. Especially strong in the period between 1880 and 1945. I listened with pleasure and learned much.
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