Word Crazy: Broadway Lyricists from Cohan to Sondheim

Hardcover | May 1, 1991

byThomas S. Hischiak

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This volume surveys the development of the American musical during the 20th century by focusing on one of the most important yet least recognized members of the creative team: the lyricist. From George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin through Oscar Hammerstein II, Alan Jay Lerner, Ira Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, and others, Word Crazy examines both well-known and obscure writers who have shaped one of America's most beloved theatrical forms. The author offers an overview of each lyricist's career and works and evaluates his or her strengths, weaknesses, patterns, temperament, and personal vision. The result is an unusual critical history of the Broadway musical that will be of significant interest to students of the theatre as well as to anyone who wishes to learn more about the unique craft of the theatre lyricist. Beginning with George M. Cohan, the American theatre's first important lyricist, and continuing up into the 1980s, the book presents an overall history of the musical theatre during this century. Hischak explores the various trends and movements, from the early operettas through the arrival of jazz, and up through the conceptual musicals of the last 30 years. The treatment is chronological with most chapters focusing on a single lyricist. A bibliography and index complete the volume. By reviewing the careers and works of America's most influential theatre lyricists, Hischak offers a fresh new perspective on the evolution of musical theatre in America.

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This volume surveys the development of the American musical during the 20th century by focusing on one of the most important yet least recognized members of the creative team: the lyricist. From George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin through Oscar Hammerstein II, Alan Jay Lerner, Ira Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, and others, Word Crazy examin...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9.54 × 6.42 × 1.12 inPublished:May 1, 1991Publisher:Praeger Publishers

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0275938492

ISBN - 13:9780275938499

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?Hischak reviews the achievements of the men and women who wrote the words for the songs in American musicals of the 20th century. He employs a chronological approach, beginning with George M. Cohan and ending with a group of lyricists from the mid-1980s (e.g., William Finn, Richard Maltby Jr, Maury Yeston). He devotes separate chapters to 21 of the more prominent lyricists (such as Oscar Hammerstein II, Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, and Stephen Sondhiem) and illustrates how each built upon the work of earlier writers or took a different approach. Happily, he does not limit himself to the better-known lyricists. In four chapters he gives briefer treatment to 56 other lyricists (e.g., Carolyn Leigh, Martin Charnin, Joe Darion). Hischak's book complements Philip Furia's The Poets of Tin Pan Alley, and the two books consider many of the same writers. Furia looks at songs on stage and film, but Hischak sticks to Broadway musicals. (Furia quotes from lyrics much more heavily than does Hischak and emphasizes use of words and rhyme.) A few bibliographical notes follow most chapters, and a bibliography and index (names and titles only) conclude the volume. There are no illustrations. Will prove a good supplemental addition in all collections on the musical theater.?-Choice