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Avant-garde virtuoso guitarist Kaki King performs the world premiere of her piece Other Education on (post)folk, the fifth concert in David Lang's collected stories series. Explore the rest of David Lang's collected stories series here.


I first heard Kaki King when she played solo guitar on the Late Show with David Letterman. Kaki is a guitarist steeped in the traditions of folk and jazz guitar playing, but she plays her instrument in a manner unlike any other guitarist I know: plucking the guitar with both hands, tapping it and slapping it, taking advantage of amplification to explore the sound-making possibilities along the entire instrument, from top to bottom.


Her style of guitar playing is a hyper-modern version of something we instinctively recognize. Guitar is the workhorse of popular music and it stretches across almost all aspects of American musical life. The familiarity of the musical worlds she emerges from is a big part of her strength—because she is innovating in a tradition that is so familiar to us we can instantly notice her innovations and be amazed. Her piece tonight, Other Education, marks the first time that Kaki has written music for so many musicians and the first time she has played in front of a chamber orchestra.

3 months ago | |
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The Années de pèlerinage is a massive undertaking for any pianist, clocking in at more than 180 minutes and requiring extreme ranges of virtuosic fireworks and emotional commitment. Read composer David Lang's program note for collected stories: travel, which features dynamic pianist Louis Lortie performing Liszt's enthralling musical travelogue.

Explore the rest of David Lang's collected stories series here.


I am always interested in how the things we take for granted in our world got started. For example, we take it for granted that a musician’s life is international, that a violinist might play a concert this week in New York, then play next week in London, and then go on to Hong Kong. We think not only that this is possible, but that it’s the normal way to design a life in music.

Where did we get this idea?

The modern life of a touring, international musician was basically invented by violinist Niccolò Paganini in the 1820s and perfected by pianist Franz Liszt in the 1830s. Together, they created the life of a musician on the road, the life most musicians recognize today.

They came of age in a time when the system that required musicians to attach themselves to various courts or nobles or churches had broken down, and in a time when a rising middle class created a new category of listener that was educated, urban, and sophisticated. You know—the Zankel Hall audience. The musician’s life and the musician’s audience developed together, hand in hand. The new urban audience required a new kind of music and a new kind of musician. Liszt, one of the greatest virtuosos of the 19th century, wrote music of previously unimagined difficulty and flamboyance, then toured Europe showing off his unique pianistic skills.

Années de pèlerinage is a collection of virtuosic solo piano pieces Liszt composed across a span of nearly 50 years. He published them in three books, which he called “years.” Some of these pieces had been published in an earlier collection called Album d’un voyageur, which he later folded into the Années de pèlerinage. The emphasis changes with the title, as “A Traveler’s Album” becomes “Years of Pilgrimage.” The first explores the places he visited, the second explores the time that passed while visiting them.

It’s not the miles, but the years.

Tonight’s concert is a marathon, and like all marathons the goal is getting to the end. Années de pèlerinage is almost never played complete, or in its published order, so you should know how rare an event this is. It is rare partly because of the titanic stamina and skill required to play it all, and partly because the most famous showpieces—like “Vallée d’Obermann,” “Après une lecture du Dante,” and the three pieces inspired by Petrarch sonnets—are all over by the end of the second book. But it also must be noted that the music gets strange in the third book. The later pieces are less interested in being overtly virtuosic, so pianists play them less frequently. You feel in the last book that Liszt’s attention has wandered from pieces calculated to electrify a crowd to pieces that are introspective, more interior, more self-questioning. You hear the man aging.

The third book contains some of the strangest, most experimental music Liszt ever wrote. From the radical harmonies of the “Villa d’Este” pieces, to the proto-minimalist “Marche funèbre,” to the heartbreaking directness of “Sunt lacrymae rerum,” this book shows a very different compositional focus than the first two.

What changed for Liszt to make this music so introspective and so bizarre? Part of it may have been that later in life, when he gave up touring as a virtuoso, he gave up needing to write the kind of music a touring virtuoso needs to play—music that impresses and shocks and wows a crowd with fireworks and acrobatics.

It may also have been that what happened to Liszt was Wagner, to whom Liszt was deeply connected. By the time Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde pulled the rug out from under the traditional harmonic landscape of Western classical music, Wagner was already having an affair with Liszt’s daughter Cosima, whom he eventually married. Liszt became heavily involved in the promotion of Tristan, making a piano transcription of the “Liebestod” that helped spread its fame throughout Europe. Could Wagner’s radical approach to harmony and form have convinced Liszt that he was now old and out of fashion?

I keep thinking about how, in the years of serialism’s zenith, older composers as diverse as Stravinsky, Copland, and Shostakovich felt compelled to try their hands at it, since the young composers of the world were so convinced. An old composer might look for signs that he or she belongs to another era, and then feel compelled to change. Perhaps it is significant that all the music in the last book of Années was written after the premiere of Tristan und Isolde.

Or maybe he was just slowing down. I can’t help but be moved when I hear the tremolo in the left hand of “Sursum corda,” the last movement of the last book. When Liszt was a young virtuoso, he had no trouble generating energy with his left hand— “Orage,” from the first book, has one of the most fiery and intricately virtuosic left hand parts in all the repertoire of the 19th century, and the younger Liszt traveled the world playing it. By the end of the third book, all he needs, or maybe all has the energy for, both as a composer and as a pianist, is a simple tremolo.

It’s not the miles, but the years.

—David Lang

3 months ago | |
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Carnegie Hall's Rose Museum and Archives Director Gino Francesconi recently attended the 100th birthday celebrations for an influential figure from the Hall's past. Here, Gino shares that experience.


Today marks the 100th birthday of Robert E. Simon Jr., the owner of Carnegie Hall from 1935 until he sold the building to the City of New York in June 1960. His father, Robert Simon Sr., purchased Carnegie Hall from Mrs. Andrew Carnegie in February 1925. Combined, father and son owned the Hall longer than Andrew Carnegie. The Simons made many improvements to the building, including the addition of air conditioning, income-generating storefronts, and the first-ever restrooms on the Dress Circle and Balcony levels!

Bob cut $250,000 from the sale price of the Hall to New York City as his own personal contribution to its continuation. With the $5 million paid to him, he purchased nearly 7,000 acres 28 miles from Washington, DC, and began to build what became one of the most successful planned communities ever created: Reston, Virginia. You might notice that he incorporated his initials into the town name—RESton.

Much like some people thought Andrew Carnegie was crazy for building such an elaborate structure nearly three miles north of (then) Midtown, Robert Simon Jr. received his share of criticism for building a community so far outside of Washington, DC. He wanted affordable housing at all economic levels and racial equality at a time when segregation was still legal in Virginia. Nearly all of the residences were built around lakes, streams, or woodlands, and the development included 55 miles of forest trails. The original center of the city, Lake Anne Plaza, was designed after the piazzas of small hill towns in Italy. To Bob, "a center piazza filled with people is the glue of a community."

Today, 65,000 people live and work in Reston. The Metro arrives in a few years, and in the spirit of Bob's original concept, the station will contain a large plaza with shops, offices, and residences. He then wants to break ground for a complex that will include a space for the performing arts. This past Saturday included celebrations of Reston's 50th anniversary and Bob's 100th with events that lasted well into the night, including declarations from local officials, the governor, and President Obama. And Bob enjoyed every minute of it!

From all of us at Carnegie Hall, we wish Bob a very happy birthday!

Bob Simon 100 in Pedicab Bob Simon 100 with Gino Francesconi
Bob Simon Jr.'s 100th Birthday Celebration | Gino Francesconi and Bob Simon Jr.

Bob Simon 100 President Obama Letter
President Obama's letter to Bob Simon Jr.

3 months ago | |
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Now in its second year, the 120 musicians from the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America will go on an eight-city, coast-to-coast tour with acclaimed conductor David Robertson and violinist Gil Shaham from July 20–August 4.

Tickets for the orchestra’s Carnegie Hall debut goes on sale to the general public on April 15 at 11 AM.


The concert program to be performed at all tour venues includes the premiere of a new work from American composer Samuel Carl Adams, commissioned by Carnegie Hall especially for NYO-USA; Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto featuring Mr. Shaham; and Ravel’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Visit the NYO-USA homepage for more information about the musicians of the 2014 orchestra, as well as the tour, guest artists and faculty, and more.


NYO-USA 2014 Tour Schedule


SUNY PurchaseSunday, July 20
Performing Arts Center,
Purchase College, SUNY
Purchase, NY
Carnegie HallTuesday, July 22
Carnegie Hall
New York, NY
TanglewoodThursday, July 24
Seiji Ozawa Hall,
Lenox, MA
Schaefer Center for the Performing ArtsSaturday, July 26
Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts,
Boone, NC
Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium ParkMonday, July 28
Jay Pritzker Pavilion,
Millennium Park
Chicago, IL
Walk Festival HallWednesday, July 30
Walk Festival Hall
Teton Village, WY
Weill Hall at Sonoma State UniversitySaturday, August 2
Weill Hall,
Sonoma State University,
Green Music Center,
Rohnert Park, CA
The Music Center's WaltMonday, August 4
The Music Center,
Walt Disney Concert Hall,
Los Angeles, CA
3 months ago | |
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The third concert in David Lang's collected stories series, love/loss explores love songs, but not the kind that end well. Quite the opposite, love/loss explores the emotional impact and intensity of intoxicating love, envy, betrayal, and devastating loss. Read a portion of David's program note for love/loss in which he discusses a compositional coincidence of Celtic character.

Explore the rest of David Lang's collected stories here.


Totally by coincidence, two New York composers—Julia Wolfe and Nico Muhly—used variants of the same folk song as inspiration to make a piece of concert music: “The Two Sisters.” It is an old Celtic song about two sisters who are in love with the same man. One drowns the other in the sea; when her skeleton washes up on shore, her bones are made into musical instruments whose sounds keep the memory of the murdered sister alive. Clearly this is not one of the happy love stories. But you can understand why it would appeal to a musician: the love, yearning, and pain in the story all need music to remember them.

Julia’s Cruel Sister is a kind of tone painting of the action of the story. There are no words, but you hear the conflict, the drowning, the transformation of the bones into a harp. Julia uses the music to dramatize the story, as if the music is the chilling soundtrack to a drama playing out within each listener’s mind.

Nico’s piece, The Only Tune, tells the story in a completely different way. He asks that the original folk song be sung complete, and his music surrounds it with other kinds of musical activity. The music he adds works as a kind of Talmudic commentary on the original, questioning it, dissecting it, pulling it apart, and extending it in several painful directions at once.

3 months ago | |
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Read a portion of David Lang's introduction to spirit, one of six programs he curated as part of his collected stories series, featuring composer Arvo Pärt's Passio on April 23. Lang explains that "collected stories divides the world not by genre or style, but by the various kinds of stories that a piece of music can tell in order to see how the story and the composer work together." Explore the rest of David Lang's collected stories series here.


In the beginning was the Word. Don’t take my word for it—thus spake St. John. It’s the first sentence of the Gospel according to John, a religious text beloved by many composers throughout history and, coincidentally, the one that is nastiest to the Jews: It is John who most explicitly blames Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus. Two-thousand years of persecution can be traced to this text. As a Jewish musician, it can be disturbing to listen to Bach’s great setting of the St. John Passion, torn as we are between the religious caricature and the awesome power of Bach’s music. There are few things Bach wrote that are as dramatic as “Herr, unser Herrscher” (“Lord, our Ruler”), the painful opening chorus. It is heartfelt and awesome and magnificent, but none of those features make it any easier for me to hear.

Passio by Arvo Pärt is also a setting of the Gospel according to John, and like all Passions it tells the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. I wanted to program this piece because of its connection to Easter, but also because it is so beautiful.

I remember exactly when I found out about Pärt and his music. In 1984, his record Tabula Rasa came out; I bought it and got deeply hooked. His emigration from the mysterious East of Soviet-ruled Estonia, his religious practice, and his big scraggly beard gave him immediate spiritual credibility. His music on that record unfolded beautifully and powerfully, with rigorous formality and elegantly controlled directness, and it sounded authentic and pure. I remember listening to the record twice the day I bought it—in the dark before going to bed—and then I dreamed about it. In my dream, Pärt’s beard was even scragglier, and I got to hear a complete (and completely made up) piece of his. It was a wild and terrifying string orchestra piece called The Jesus Who Howls. (That was probably the most exciting dream I ever had ...)

His next CD was Passio, and I bought it the day it was released. I was so eager to listen to it, and it shocked me before I even heard a single note. I put the CD in the player and the track listing came up: 75 minutes long, one track. No index points, no places to stop and start, no way to replay your favorite moments. It was a statement. If you want to listen to this music, you have to start at the beginning and stay until the end.

Having only one track is a courageous way to organize a CD, but it’s also an indication of how the music is made. There are no highlights or moments of manipulated tension and release. How can there be? There is no point in using the music to generate suspense or surprise or to heighten the fearful expectations of the listener because everyone in the audience already knows from the beginning of the story exactly how it will end. There is a straight line drawn from the beginning of the work until it is over, and all of Pärt’s musical decisions are about keeping the music squarely on it.

A point of spiritual music is to help reinforce the togetherness of the community that practices that kind of spirituality—the people who already share their stories and beliefs and feelings. Music for those communities may be more about creating a constant state of mind than a forward-moving drama because it is helping to tell stories the community already knows.

Pärt creates this constant state of mind by limiting his musical options and linking them to the words, using the text itself to help regulate the music’s form. Almost all of the text is set syllabically, and almost all the syllables have the same length. What changes do happen in phrase, cadence, and rhythm are shaped almost entirely by the punctuation marks of the original Latin: The commas, colons, and periods of the Vulgate govern the pacing of the music. How better to honor a text whose beginning was the Word?

3 months ago | |
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Read a portion of David Lang's introduction to hero, one of six programs he curated as part of his collected stories series, featuring storyteller and medieval harpist Benjamin Bagby on April 22. Lang explains that "collected stories divides the world not by genre or style, but by the various kinds of stories that a piece of music can tell in order to see how the story and the composer work together."

Explore the rest of David Lang's collected stories series here.


In 1982, my friend Michael Gordon came to visit me at my parents’ house in Los Angeles. We went to see the new action film starring a young unknown actor named Mel Gibson called The Road Warrior, a violent and darkly post-apocalyptic story that included a 45-minute car chase through the Australian outback. It was so intense that when it was over, we couldn’t move. We ended up watching it twice in a row, pinned to our seats.

I became a little obsessed with the movie, and I read everything I could about it and its director George Miller. I found out that he had been heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. So I got a copy, and sure enough, there it all was: the extraordinary individual, the quest, the journey, the impossible odds, the relentless pursuit of public good. I thought I had seen a movie about a dystopian future, but it was really an ancient, unchanging archetype.

It so happens that when heroes go somewhere, music goes along with them. Music to accompany the telling of a hero’s exploits is as old as time. In The Odyssey, Homer often advances the plot through exploits recounted by singers. On his long trip home from Troy, Odysseus hears how word of the Trojan War has spread throughout the Mediterranean, told by poets and storytellers and accompanied by music. This is a kind of metasinging, since Homer himself would sing or intone the words of these stories as he recounted Odysseus’s adventures on his long trip home. The very first line of The Odyssey is “Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.” Hero and music are linked.

It is easy to imagine why music should be the heroic tale’s helper. Telling epic stories requires a huge amount of text, with hundreds of names and places and gods, which may make it both hard to remember for the bard and hard to follow for the listener. Music helps organize both the telling and the listening.



It is also true that a heroic tale moves forward, as does its hero, in the same way that stories move forward in movies. There are moments of suspense, moments of struggle and of reflection, moments of fear and of excitement, and the anticipation of more fear and excitement. A journey, a struggle, impossible odds: It sounds like a movie to me. In fact, the musical function that helps organize a bard’s retelling of The Odyssey is not so different from how the late, great Australian film composer Brian May used music to help support the story of The Road Warrior.

It is clear that the music in such situations is the text’s helper. The music changes its character when the text tells it to. The music emerges from the text, it supports the text, it tells you how to gauge the emotional world behind the text and to anticipate the text that lies ahead, but it is the text that comes first. The music intensifies our hearing of the words, but hearing the words is where the action is.

In 2009, I went to The Cloisters to see Benjamin Bagby perform his retelling of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf. I didn’t understand a word of what he was saying, but I was riveted by the intensity of his performance. Intoning the text and accompanied only by his medieval lyre, the music made it possible for me to follow the story—when to be tense, when to relax, when to shrink in fear for the poor defenseless subjects of King Hrothgar, and when to exult in the triumphal exploits of the powerful Beowulf.

—David Lang

3 months ago | |
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Yesterday's one-night-only performance of Guys and Dolls caused a flurry of excitement on social media. Here are some of the things that you shared.

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Fennesz salutes the universality of fellow Austrian Gustav Mahler in this March 7, 2014 Zankel Hall performance featuring a remixed interpolation of the composer's oeuvre, visualized by the German digital abstractionist Lillevan, to show Mahler's enduring influence in modern life, both in the creative incubator of Vienna and around the world.

This performance was part of Carnegie Hall's Vienna: City of Dreams festival.


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Carnegie Hall presents Guys and Dolls: One Night Only–Only at Carnegie Hall, starring Nathan Lane, Patrick Wilson, Sierra Boggess, and Megan Mullally as Miss Adelaide, with a fantastic all-star Broadway supporting cast. See the full cast and artistic team here.

Read about Guys and Dolls composer Frank Loesser, the story, and the musical's storied history below.


About the Composer

 

Frank Loesser Headshot 200 WideFrank Loesser was one of Broadway’s crown princes from the late 1940s until his death in 1969. In that golden age of American musical theater, there was no dearth of competing claimants to the throne, not least Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who launched the musical on a new path with a string of hits that included Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), South Pacific (1949), The King and I (1951), Flower Drum Song (1958), and The Sound of Music (1959). In their integration of music, lyrics, drama, and choreography, the Rodgers and Hammerstein shows were light years away from the loose-knit song-and-dance entertainments of an earlier era.

Loesser too was an innovator. The four musicals on which his reputation rests—Where’s Charley? (1948), Guys and Dolls (1950), The Most Happy Fella (1956), and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961)—all broke new ground while remaining true to Broadway’s traditional values of hummable melodies, sympathetic, real-life characters, and feel-good storylines. It’s probably no accident that he achieved his first breakthrough on the Great White Way with a musical adaptation of a perennially popular Victorian farce, Charley’s Aunt, in which Ray Bolger brought the house down as the cross-dressing title character. The show’s bestknown song, “Once in Love with Amy,” tapped a vein of authentically American innocence that was second nature to a member of the pre–World War I generation.

Born in New York in 1910, Loesser had musical blood in his veins: His father was a distinguished piano teacher and his half-brother, Arthur, a concert pianist. As a boy, Frank discovered a talent for crafting lyrics, teaming up with songwriter friends and hiring himself out as a “song plugger” for music publishers. Eager to make his name as a composer, he struck out for Hollywood in 1937 and launched a lucrative career writing songs for films. In 1942, the same year he enlisted in the army, he struck gold with “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” which became a bestseller on records and in sheet music. But its homespun blend of piety and patriotism represented only one side of Loesser’s talent; he was equally capable of writing urbane, mildly risqué songs, like the Oscar-winning duet “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and wholesome music for family films like Samuel Goldwyn’s biopic Hans Christian Andersen (1952).

By the early 1950s, Loesser’s songs had been picked up by a Who’s Who of big-name singers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, Marlene Dietrich, and Doris Day. Riding on the runaway success of Guys and Dolls, he set up his own publishing and production companies; the latter gave him a vicarious stake in such landmark musicals as The Music Man, The Fantasticks, and Fiddler on the Roof. In 1956, he scored another Broadway hit with The Most Happy Fella, a semi-operatic romance about a big-hearted California winemaker and his mail-order bride. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying—a smart, satirical send-up of corporate ladder–climbing that opened in 1961—chalked up 1,417 performances and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

About the Book

Guys and Dolls is based on short stories and characters created by Damon Runyon (1880–1946), the inimitable chronicler of Prohibition-era New York. As a writer for William Randolph Hearst’s New York American, Runyon had a front-row seat to Manhattan’s rough-and-tumble underworld, which he portrayed with candid and nonjudgmental affection. The fictional realm of “Runyonland” is populated by unforgettable characters with monikers like Hot Horse Herbie, Miss Cutie Singleton, Benny Southstreet, and Meyer Marmalade. Their native tongue is a colorful and riotously screwball patois known as “Runyonese,” of which the following—drawn from the short story “Blood Pressure,” one of the sources of Guys and Dolls—is a typical specimen:

I do not wish to go to Nathan Detroit’s crap game; and if I do wish to go there, I do not wish to go with Rusty Charley, because a guy is sometimes judged by the company he keeps, especially around crap games, and Rusty Charley is apt to be considered bad company. Anyway, I do not have any dough to shoot craps with, and if I do have enough dough to shoot craps with, I will not shoot craps with it at all, but will bet it on Sun Beau, or maybe take it home and pay off some of the overhead around my joint, such as rent.

Runyon’s “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” recounts the improbable love affair between an earnest missionary and a tough-as-nails hustler named Sky Masterson. The story was dramatized in 1949 on one of the weekly broadcasts of The Damon Runyon Theater radio series. Cy Feuer and Ernest H. Martin, the producers of Where’s Charley?, recognized its potential and invited Loesser to work up some songs to help pitch the show to investors. Only later, after clearing the dramatic rights with Runyon’s estate, did they commission screenwriter Jo Swerling—of It’s a Wonderful Life fame—to write a book for Guys and Dolls. (The show’s title, incidentally, comes from a collection of stories that Runyon published in 1931.) Swerling’s first draft was deemed insufficiently irreverent, however, and Abe Burrows, a popular radio comedian and later a renowned “script doctor,” was brought in to pep it up.

Burrows later attributed the success of the book to the characters’ offbeat blend of vernacular and formal modes of speech; as he put it, “these bums act like they are written by Noël Coward.” Loesser had achieved a similar mix of high-brow and lowbrow elements in his songs. As a result, his lyrics meshed flawlessly with the Swerling-Burrows libretto, disguising the fact that the book was tailored to the (pre-existing) lyrics instead of the other way around.

About the Musical

Guys and Dolls opened to rave reviews at the 46th Street Theater on November 24, 1950, and ran for three full years. Despite its well-publicized birthing pains, critics agreed that the show held together perfectly. As Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times, “Everything falls into place easily as though the play had been created in one piece, and every song and actor were inevitable.” The cast featured Robert Alda as Sky Masterson and Isabel Bigley as Sarah Brown, with Sam Levene and Vivian Blaine playing Nathan Detroit avnd Miss Adelaide, respectively. After garnering five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Guys and Dolls had a successful run on London’s West End and was made into a 1955 film that starred Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons, and Marlon Brando. It has been revived many times, most recently on Broadway in 2009.

What is the secret of the show’s staying power? The slice-of-life human-interest appeal of the story; the enduring and endearing wackiness of Runyon’s low-life characters; and, above all, the irrepressible vitality of Loesser’s music and lyrics. He begins with a jaunty fugue in which three “tinhorn” gamblers place their bets on racehorses. Then, without skipping a beat, the muffled march of a missionary band is heard offstage; Sarah and her fellow missionaries enter to the tub-thumping strains of “Follow the fold and stray no more.”

This pattern of seamless transitions, knitting together contrasts both musical and dramatic, continues throughout Guys and Dolls. True to Runyon’s originals, Loesser’s musical creations are characterized by an engaging mixture of cynicism and naiveté, sassiness and sentimentality. In tone and style, his songs range from the unadulterated cornpone of “A Bushel and a Peck” to the Runyonesque ribaldry of the lovelorn Adelaide’s “Lament” (with its decidedly unromantic refrain, “a person can develop a cold”) to the soaring lyricism of Sky and Sarah’s duet “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.” Loesser often plays fast and loose with Broadway norms, as when he prefaces the show’s rousing title song—not with a conventional lead-in, but with a quasi-spoken recitative recapping the news of the day. In what is perhaps the show’s signature number, “Luck Be a Lady”—written, surprisingly, before the show’s book existed—Loesser manages to express both the eternal optimism of the gambler and the devil-may-care ambience of the “oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York.”

—Harry Haskell

© 2014 The Carnegie Hall Corporation

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