Summary of Foundation Mission

We seek to concentrate on our niche of pre-1943 Broadway musicals; however, we seek to do this as part of a national effort to provide access to the public through digital curation, currently defined as including the preservation, storage, archiving of and access to digital scores.  At the same time, our second and equally important goal lies in the fields of education and licensing.  To achieve our goals, we must confront and overcome a wide array of issues:

 Restoration/Reconstruction of what does exist to what “should” exist

Coordination of national/local archives to store original hard copy

Creation of digital database that can be accessed

Creation of applications with which to access the database

Creation of educational tools to spark interest in the subject matter

Creation of performance materials to encourage participation

1. The Foundation’s Completed Restoration and Recording Projects

There are two important aspects to historical preservation of pre-1943 Broadway shows:  preservation of the musical notation (usually in the form of the conductor’s score) and preservation of the style and tempo integral to the score (usually in the form of an “archival” recording).

a.  Lack of Original Scores

Original, complete scores of pre-1943 Broadway shows are rarely found intact; and what can be found may have to be retrieved from various locations and organizations.  Our first task is restoration and perhaps reconstruction of original materials.

b.  Lack of Archival Recordings

Prior to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! in 1943, Broadway shows were not recorded in an original cast album.  Restoration recordings attempt to provide archives of the style and tempo of the original orchestrations.

c.  Accomplishments to Date

In conjunction with our key partners and our initial funding of $1.78 million, we have completed the following restoration and recording work:  

Victor Herbert’s Music for Piano and Cello (New World 80721-2)

Victor Herbert’s 102 Collected Songs not found in his operettas (New World 80726-2)

Victor Herbert’s 1917 operetta, Eileen (New World 80733-2)

Richard Rodgers’ 1925 Dearest Enemy (New World 80749-2)

Jerome Kern’s 1933 Roberta (New World Recording 80760-2)

d.  Reviews of Our Work

The recordings and the accompanying liner notes have both been singled out for praise.  The Journal of the Society for American Music reviewed the Music for Piano and Cello and stated that:

“Initial explorations to find other references to the works included on the recording uncover only occasional mention of just a few of them, making it apparent that the compilation on the recording truly is the result of original research.  This recording represents an important contribution towards introducing Herbert’s short instrumental works to all audiences.  *** Victor Herbert’s role in American music brings together fascinating strands of influence from his own background as an Irish-born, German trained cellist who moved to the United States at the age of twenty-seven.  *** The liner notes accompanying this recording, which are impressive in scope, successfully place these short works in their historical context.”

All the Reviews are included on our website.

2.  The Foundation’s Comprehensive Plan for the Future

In summary, the Foundation’s plan to make significant, public domain, American musical compositions accessible to the public consists of:

–restoring/preserving key individual public domain scores with all original instrument parts intact

archiving hard copy manuscripts at appropriate libraries

–creating digital databases that can support multiple websites

–creating new, electronic library/licensing systems to promote ease of access and use for K-12, with special emphasis on high schools for participative education

–creating  “participatory” education materials

–creating web-based, passive and interactive educational material that can be accessed by children of all ages

In the past, movies have been very innovative in the use of classical music to make the music interesting and accessible to the public.  Today, we believe that the modern modality to reach a wider audience is through the internet.  This will permit us to merge the “how” with the “what.”  We need to encourage the use of cutting edge techniques in knowledge management, including “pull” technologies, that let readers “discover” the content for themselves.

3.  The Foundation’s Core Educational Model

Our key goal  in Phase 1 was to develop a low-cost integration of all of the elements of historical story-telling (educational “immersion”), using the power of the internet to connect all of the diverse threads of history, art and culture of pre-1943 Broadway shows into an integrated whole (our website).

The high-cost model to date is best exemplified by Ken Burns documentary, The Civil War. Burns artfully integrated individual stories into the tapestry of a historical chronicle.  He blended period music, with narrative text and current, third party interviews, overlaid with visual images of actual people and places in the Civil War.  That being said, The Civil War is a form of passive education.  It cannot be stopped; it cannot be interrogated.  Furthermore, producing a documentary is very expensive; the cost of production of The Roosevelts is said to have exceeded $70M.  

If we truly want to be disruptive, we need to move into Phase 2 and adopt a less expensive and more interactive model which turns data into a living art form.  It is said that music is a universal language; and, by using the best of audio and video clips, we think the internet provides us with a universal teaching tool where we can combine text, audio, video and interactive querying into one tool.

Our first step to date was the creation of our website, which provides an introduction to European musical forms, including symphonic music, opera and operetta, alongside American musical forms.  We show how, using audio and video clips, our composers were able to develop a uniquely American sound.

Our ultimate goal is to combine interactive internet access with newly created, participatory educational materials in Phase 3.  By combining social media techniques with the tradition of the high school spring musical, we would be able to find unique ways to get students to embrace the music.

In Phase 3, we hope to accomplish the following:

a.   Databases of Digital Scores

Through digital storage and access, we possess the power to make the musical scores available to students in a easily accessible form—music that can be performed by students on instruments they know how to play and in keys that fit their vocal ranges.

b.  Historical Threads of Librettos

Using the time and place being addressed in a fictional libretto provides us with a rich, teaching experience.  For example, a show like Roberta permits students to understand, first hand, through the text, the problems associated with the First Battle of the Marne in 1914, the plight of White Russians in Paris after the 1917 revolution, the changing face of fashion in Hollywood and Paris in the 1930’s and the influence of American jazz on Parisian music.

c.  Student Workshops

Starting with newly drafted librettos provided by the Foundation, students can “recreate” a modern musical, using an existing score along with a new libretto.  The students can model the libretto in a way that can capture the intent of the original lyrics along with spoken dialogue that can be understood and appreciated by modern, young audiences.  The workshops should be inclusive for all students, not just the performers.  The concept tries to combine education and performance art.

4.  Power of Participation

It is important to understand the power of participatory education.  Confirmation of this approach comes from the Ken Burns documentary, entitled The Address.  Child after child expressed their views on the importance of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; but more importantly, the children expressed, in their own words and emotions, the importance of memorizing and reciting the Address in a public forum.

5.  Foundation Strengths

a. Partnerships with Outstanding Professionals

The Foundation has successfully demonstrated its ability to assemble a first-rate preservation team, from initial restoration and reconstruction (orchestrators and copyists) to recording and distribution.

b.  Process of Preservation

We believe that we have the best-in-class process of restoration and reconstruction, premised on four principles: (1) finding all the material that might exist; (2) identifying all the music that was composed at various times for the show, whether it was used or not on Broadway; (3) extending the restoration and/or reconstruction to the entire score, not just the principal songs; and (4) including all music in the recording.  We have included a Segment on the Art of Restoration, Reconstruction and Recording on our website.

We believe that we are best equipped to create the historical artifact—a de facto standard that preserves, as best we can, the style and tempo of the music as it was heard on Broadway on opening night.

Why is style and tempo so important?  As explained in his letter dated November 3, 1928 to George Gershwin, Walter Damrosch wouldn’t consider giving the American premiere of An American in Paris (December 13, 1928) without first hearing Gershwin play the score for him:

 “Couldn’t you come in some morning and play it over for me so that I can get your tempi and the proper spirit.” (Emphasis added)

c. An In-Depth Understanding of the Subject Matter

Our website demonstrates scholarly excellence:  we are able to address all of the musical threads and all of the “libretto threads” that permitted America to to create the “book” musical, a unique American art form.