Welcome to the Foundation!

Thank You for coming to our website. It is normal for you to want to know more about us than our name; you want to know what we do, who we are.  And in a minute we will tell you all about us.

But it is also true that we don’t know anything about you.  Are you interested in music?  If you like music, do you like many kinds of music, or just the popular selections on most playlists?  Do you download music or buy CD’s?  Can you afford everything you want to listen to?  Is it an agonizing decision as to which music you choose to listen to?  Does a new sound interest you?  Do your feet tap before you know what it is you are listening to?

Members of our team saw a documentary film about elementary school children from East Harlem who attended three schools dedicated to the arts in New York City, Central Park 1 and 2 and River East Elementary Schools, part of the District 4 Alternative Schools.  It is all about a woman with two sons, deserted by her husband, without a job and with no history of teaching anything, anywhere.  But she knew how to play the violin, and her two sons demonstrated how well they had been taught.  Given a chance to teach in District 4 as a substitute teacher, she established a program that educated more than 1,000 children on the violin and “then some.”  The “then some,” in the children’s own words, deals with character—instilling the passion, the discipline and the courage to fight through all of the problems, the doubts and fears, and find a way to succeed beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.  The final scene of the documentary (Small Wonders) replays their fund-raising concert in Carnegie Hall, featuring the students accompanied by some of the greatest violinists in the world at that time (1993).

We are not sure which had a more profound effect on us:  the faces of the children who succeeded or the faces of the parents who watched their children succeed.

No, we are not going to try to teach anyone to play the violin or any other instrument!

All we ask is that you have a love of music and an open mind.  Exploring music is like eating an oreo cookie.  Some take the cookie apart and eat the filling first.  Some dunk the cookie in milk.  Some of us are impatient and stuff the cookie into our mouths and pray we don’t choke before we eat it.

In a similar way, our website permits you to explore its contents any way you like; there is no one way to navigate through it.  You can start in the middle or on the edges.  You can pick any subject and work forward or backward.  And we have a reason for this.

Well, in truth, we have a number of reasons.  But they all boil down to this one theme:  musical tastes vary.  We will not know ahead of time which types of music will appeal to you, catch your interest and keep you looking for more. 

The first key to your exploration is that you can’t appreciate the music that you have never heard.  The second key to your exploration involves some degree of trust:  you have to jump into the unknown without any legitimate expectations of success or failure.

For this reason, we designed a website that has a logic flow but also has individual Sections that can stand on their own.  The main purpose of the website is to discuss and explore music that has come down to us over the years from many sources and has found its way into Broadway musicals. You may know a few musicals; perhaps you acted in some when you were in high school; or maybe you are acting in one right now.

But we would like to expand our focus beyond Broadway to include musical concepts that influenced the Broadway “sound.”

Before you could have Broadway musicals, people needed to compose music for instruments (chamber and orchestral music) and then the voice.  Churches developed “a cappella” music that could be sung without instrument accompaniment.  Then, orchestras and singers joined forces to perform madrigals, cantatas, oratorios and finally operas.

There is no one pattern that can account for the birth and maturation of musical genres.  While vocal music was becoming more formal in its presentation in the early 1800’s, the late 1800’s witnessed the birth of new forms of instrumental music, such as ragtime piano and jazz bands.  Listening to rags being played on the piano should give us a thrill, but so should the last ten minutes of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.  

In the area of vocal music, it is possible to like opera but to also like Motown.  There is no law that the appreciation of one kind of music prohibits us from enjoying other kinds of music.  In our opinion, it isn’t a matter of favorites.  It is a matter of a broad range of choices; and, for that reason, we have included a wide range of music on the website.

As we move through this broad range of music, we need to try to identify the “roots” of Broadway musicals.  Some roots are more obvious than others; we need both instruments (a pit orchestra) and singers (on the stage).  But the roots go back much further.  They are surprising and wonderful, all on their own.  We give these roots names and call them musical “threads.” They come from all over the world, as immigrants brought their cultures (including their music) with them to the New World, this place we call America.

Broadway is not independent of all other forms of American music; Broadway  reflects the music of America.  Thus, if we want to explain the music of early Broadway, we need to share with you as many of these “threads” as we can.  

That’s why it doesn’t make any difference where you start.  If you like “country,” just recognize that “country” came from another country, from what we call Scotch-Irish music.

And by the way, if you like blue grass and dueling banjos, just keep in mind that those banjos didn’t come from Scotland or Ireland, but Africa.

And if you like Johnny Cash, catch him singing African-American Gospel music.

However, while you can start anywhere, the website does have a logic flow, a sequential flow that may help you if you decide to use the site to its maximum advantage.

The most logical starting place is the Section on Cultural Influences; it introduces you to the musical “threads” of music from Europe in general, and, in particular, from Scotch-Irish, European musical training, African-American music and Irish-American music.

The next step would be to focus on vocal music, specifically the vocal music in European operas as discussed in the Section, How Opera Became Grand Opera.

That second step logically carries you into an offshoot from opera, namely operetta, which is one of the subjects covered in the Section, How Broadway Became Broadway.

If you become more interested in the individuals who were major figures on Broadway (and more generally influenced American compositional trends), then we would suggest moving into the Section named Creative Personnel, where you will find a discussion of pre-1943 major composers, orchestrators, music directors, conductors and lyricists and librettists.  If the composers are of particular interest to you, you can then look at the major shows they composed and a listing, for each show, of the songs that were heard on opening night.

If you would like to know how some of the creative personnel were trained, we suggest you turn to the Section on European Musical Training.

Because artists can’t work without funding, in the Section named Production Personnel, we present Segments about the producers and music publishers that facilitated and supported America’s creative personnel.

You might like to put the shows into some sort of perspective by glancing at the Section titled Chronological Overview, where we illustrate, by decade, the major shows that appeared on Broadway.

Finally, in the Section on Philosophical Influences, we pull the various Sections together, by showing how some extraordinary people turned entertainment into a new and vibrant art form.

While that covers the website’s educational content, should you wish to read or obtain additional information on any of these topics, we suggest that you consult the Bibliography Section, which provides a listing of numerous published works.

Which brings us back to why we started this website.  We want to share our love of music with you; share our desire to preserve our musical heritage; explain our work since 2007; and take you with us as we continue to try to preserve music from pre-1943 Broadway shows.

In our work, we behave like musical “archaeologists.”  We search through a lot of dust and dirt to find original documents, which in our case are musical scores.  We try to find what still exists, restore what we find, reconstruct (what we cannot find) from archival notes and then preserve our work as best we can.

Since 2007, we have been on a wonderful adventure; we have met many fine people who are like-minded and have produced some defining “artifacts” of a musical world that was and is no more.  We have discovered older scores, restored and sometimes reconstructed them; we have recorded the music we found, as best as we could, in the style and tempo of the original performances.

We would now like to introduce you to some of the people who made these restorations possible.  

We have worked with one of the best orchestrators in the business–an expert in pre-1943 orchestrations, named Larry Moore.  Larry doesn’t make things up as he goes along; he has immersed himself in understanding compositions written and performed over a century ago.  His goal is to duplicate the sound heard on Broadway from 1890 to 1943.  It can be a researcher’s nightmare, as you will better understand after reading Larry’s first-hand account of his struggle to restore and reconstruct the show, Dearest Enemy.  We have included this account in the Project Section.

Every orchestrator needs a music director, another person who tries to get inside the head of a composer.  Together, both try to figure out what the composer wanted the music to say.  That’s because music talks to musicians.  When they look at the score, they hear the music in their minds; just as, when we listen to Beethoven, our ears hear more than the notes.  Somehow, his music transcends sound and becomes etched on to our souls.

For example, when Gary Oldman was cast as the lead (Ludwig van Beethoven) in the movie Immortal Beloved, he asked the writer/director, Bernard Rose, to recommend Beethoven biographies to read.  Rose responded: “There is only one he should consider: the music.  This music is an unvarnished, uncensored record of Ludwig van Beethoven’s passions, fears, violent anger, humanity and finally victory over unimaginable adversity.”

We have worked with some great music directors, David Brophy from Dublin and Rob Berman in New York City.  David has served as the music director/”principal conductor” for the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin and for the Orchestra of Ireland. Rob has served as the music director at ENCORES! and the conductor of the Broadway musical Bright Star and the Broadway smash revival of Finian’s Rainbow.  We have relied on David and Rob; and they have relied on Fionnuala Hunt, leader (first violin or concertmistress in American terminology) for a number of the world’s orchestras.

Our performers have come from all over the world, from the disparate domains of Opera and Broadway.  We need lead singers and chorus.  We need actors who don’t sing, like Stephen Rea, a star of stage and screen.

The person who has recorded our studio performances and provided independent, artistic feedback in a firm but caring manner, is Judy Sherman.  Her recording skills and artistic acumen are gifts from heaven.  Perhaps, that is why she has won seven Grammies.

We have engaged a production company that could find the right hall in which to record, the right people to sing and play.  We have worked with two lads from Dublin who can do just that—Jonathan Ford and Joseph Csibi.

Finally, after Judy’s studio has completed  the edits and created the master, we have sent the master to Paul Tai and Lisa Kahlden at New World Records, to add our new CD’s to their “evergreen” catalog of the works of American composers.

Then we all wait to see if the world loves us or not.  With the luck of the Irish (now you know why we record there), our reviews have been uniformly good.  Some of the critics have sometimes been a little rough on our performers, but then some critics are notoriously hard to please.  By and large, the reviewers seem to understand and appreciate the many cultural influences on American music and how they have affected American composition over the years.  Moreover, the reviewers appear to understand how important it is for us to try and preserve our musical heritage. We have provided a separate Section to summarize and quote from these Reviews.

Of course, this snapshot is all about restoration and recording.  Long before the production work could start, we had to figure out what we should try to accomplish, what priorities to set and how best to protect and preserve our early Broadway music.  We have succeeded, in large part, because of the help of some top-notch Broadway experts.  We can’t thank them enough—Bruce Pomahac and Ted Chapin from the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization and Jack Viertel at ENCORES!  (By the way, if you have not yet read Jack’s wonderful book, The Secret Life of the American Musical, you are missing out on a real treasure.)

We decided early on that the primary focus of the website should be educational and that it should not assume any prior, in-depth knowledge of music.

Second, we decided that the site should cover a broad range of music, permitting us to include many of the “musical threads” that contributed to the “sound” of the American Musical Theatre.

As you will see, the website chronicles the many cultural influences/musical threads that have had an impact on American music, but we ought to emphasize one theme in this Introduction. We are sure that you have heard America described as a “melting pot” of immigrants from all over the world.  As they lost their sense of political identification with the country of their birth, they became “Americans.”  But it is also true that their cultural “memory” remained intact and that, in the process of becoming “Americans,” they changed the definition of what it is to be an American.  This transformation is equally applicable to the ever-changing nature of American composition, as you will see.

Here is a Table of Contents for ease of navigating through our website:

The “Mission” Section includes five Segments:

The first Segment states the Mission and Purpose of the Foundation.

The second Segment is what you are presently reading–a welcoming message from JMV Art Preservation Foundation.

The third Segment discusses the Foundation’s Operating Plan.

The fourth Segment discusses the Foundation’s Model for Preserving Broadway shows.

The fifth Segment presents excerpts from professional reviews of the Foundation’s five projects to date.

The “Projects” Section includes five Segments:

The first Segment discusses the Foundation’s five projects completed to date.

The second Segment discusses the projects that are currently in progress.

The third Segment is a recollection of Larry Moore’s efforts to restore and reconstruct Dearest Enemy for the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization.

The fourth Segment is, to the best of our recollection, a listing of the restoration and reconstruction efforts that were undertaken before the Foundation started.

The fifth Segment is a listing of the shows that the Foundation intends to restore and/or record.

The Section “How Broadway Became Broadway” contains twenty-nine Segments which discuss the various influences on Broadway composers and the various eras of Broadway composition.

The “Chronological History” Section provides, decade-by-decade, a listing of the major shows that appeared on Broadway, along with significant facts of interest for each show.

The “Creative Personnel” Section contains five main Segments, which demonstrate the collaborative nature of the art form:

The first Segment discusses the basic concepts of orchestration.

The second Segment discusses the roles played by orchestrators and conductors.

The third Segment discusses key orchestrators, music directors and conductors.

The fourth Segment discusses key librettists and lyricists.

The fifth Segment discusses the accomplishments of ten major Broadway composers.

The “Production Personnel” Section contains two main Segments, one to discuss the contributions of major producers and the other to discuss contributions from major music publishers, especially the contributions from Max Dreyfus.

The Section “How Opera Became Grand Opera” contains sixteen Segments which provide a summary of the development of opera throughout the European continent and, by implication, the influence that opera had on the development of operetta and Broadway musicals.

The Section on “European Musical Training” contains three Segments and outlines the influence of European musical training on American composers, orchestrators and conductors.

The “Cultural Influences” Section contains four Segments which discuss the influence of European music, in general, and Scotch-Irish music in particular; in addition, the Segments provide an analysis of the influence of Irish-American and African-American music on Broadway.

The “Philosophical Influences” Section contains eight Segments, which chronicle and explore the development of Broadway lyrics and librettos and the individuals who authored them.

The “Bibliography” Section provides a listing of published works that provide additional information on the topics discussed on the website.

Throughout the website, you will sometimes see a notation found in Norton’s Chronology of American Musical Theater, such as 1927.67.  The notation indicates the year that a show was first produced on Broadway, along with the sequential order in which it was produced.  For example, Show Boat was produced in 1927 and was the 67th show produced that year; the notation in Norton’s three volume set is 1927.67.

 Officers and Directors:

Ed Heins – President

Tom Bird – Treasurer

Paul Collins – Secretary

Non-Officer Personnel

John M. Vogel, Artistic Director

Sean O’Donoghue – Website Librarian

John A. Townsend – Website Editor