While the United States, in general, has a habit of looking forward, building new, starting over, every now and then a small group of Americans look back at earlier efforts and decide some of it is worth saving.  Whether the subject matter is artifacts from the Revolutionary War, homes of famous people, native art or Scotch-Irish traditional music, the efforts to restore and preserve the past have been intermittent and poorly organized.  Sometimes, there is a nationally coordinated effort; mostly, the efforts are led by a group of enthusiasts within a sector.

Of great interest to the JMV Art Preservation Foundation is the restoration, reconstruction and preservation of musicals written prior to 1943, the year Oklahoma! changed everything.  We think it would be beneficial to look back at the efforts taken by others in previous years to restore and preserve scores of pre-1943 Broadway musicals.  

It is important to note that the earliest restoration efforts were broad in nature, starting in the early 1970’s with research work in the correct performance of baroque and romantic period music played on period instruments, musical instruments either from the period in which the music originated or reproductions of these instruments.  This led to interest in the correct performances and recordings of American music of the 18th to late-19th century, led by Nonesuch Records.  Specific works by Scott Joplin, Stephen Foster, Henry Clay Work, and popular 18th and 19th century American dance music were recorded, often played by period instruments.

In 1975, the Rockefeller Foundation provided the seed funding to start New World Records on a brave new mission:  to record music composed by Americans and to keep the music alive by assuring the public that all of the recordings would remain in print and available through a catalog.

This catalog includes theatre music ranging from songs from musicals written between 1870 and 1903 to recordings of shows from the early 20th century to contemporary musical theatre. The catalog includes restorations of George Gershwin’s Tip-Toes and Tell Me More, Jerome Kern’s Sitting Pretty, Cole Porter’s Fifty Million Frenchmen, Richard Rodgers’ Babes In Arms and Dearest Enemy, and Victor Herbert’s Eileen.

A number of organizations and producers have shown interest in the restoration of Broadway shows. In 1975, the Goodspeed Opera production of Kern’s Princess Theatre show Very Good Eddie, in an edition assembled by director Bill Gile and orchestrator Russell Warner from the 1917 Tams-Witmark rental materials and songs Kern had written for other shows between 1915 and 1917, successfully transferred to Broadway for a run of 305 performances. The production also played London and toured the United States.

In 1980, producers Bill Tynes, Jerry Bell, and conductor Evans Haile formed The Bandwagon, a new company to produce period musicals.  Their first venture was a revival of Leslie Stuart’s British musical Florodora. Because no orchestrations for the original 1900 Broadway production were available, orchestrator Larry Moore joined the group, which dissolved shortly thereafter because of artistic differences.

Tynes and Haile started over as The New Amsterdam Theatre Company, with a St. Patrick’s Day concert at Town Hall of Herbert’s 1917 operetta Eileen, using orchestra parts copied by Catholic University students from Herbert’s original scores.  Moore was asked to join the new company and provide orchestrations for several missing numbers. This new company was dedicated to the performance of musicals written before 1943. It was Tynes’ hope that the company would progress from concert performances to fully staged productions.

For the next four years at Town Hall, the New Amsterdam Theatre company presented with full orchestra concerts of Rudolf Friml’s The Firefly, Herbert’s Sweethearts, the Gershwin-Sigmund Romberg Rosalie, Kern’s Sweet Adeline, Leave It To Jane, and Music In The Air, the Rodgers and Hart I Married An Angel, and others.  For many of these productions, Moore worked as librarian and occasional orchestrator. The company fell apart after Tynes’ death in January, 1987.

Bell and The Bandwagon continued independently with Florodora, but shortly fell into limbo.

Around 1981, a vast collection of music composed for Broadway shows from the 1920s through 1935 was discovered in the Secaucus, NJ, warehouse of Warner Brothers Music. This collection, which remained in limbo for several years while property rights were settled, included music cut from Show Boat, several lost Gershwin shows, and others. The collection was inventoried by Robert Kimball (who would go on to set up with Leonore Gershwin a project to record Gershwin shows) and Tommy Krasker (who would later set up the recording label PS Classics).

In 1983 John Mauceri and the Kennedy Center produced on Broadway the 1936 Rodgers and Hart show On Your Toes, directed by its original director George Abbott, with John McGlinn assisting Hans Spialek, its original orchestrator, in restoring the original orchestrations. One month later the Houston Grand Opera restoration of the 1927 version of Show Boat opened on Broadway after its Houston engagement and a subsequent tour; again, McGlinn assisted in restoring Robert Russell Bennett’s original orchestrations.

The same year, the Book-of-the-Month Club hired McGlinn to record “Songs Of New York: East Side West Side – All around The Town,” a set of 37 songs about New York City written between 1890 and 1983, to be performed in the style and in the musical arrangements of the period in which they were first heard. Many of the arrangements were transcriptions from period recordings, and the bulk of the orchestrations were by Warner and Moore.

In 1985, for the Jerome Kern centenary, McGlinn conducted a series of three Kern scores, Zip Goes A Million, Oh, Lady! Lady!, and Oh, Boy!, produced by the Carnegie Recital Hall.  He also conducted a production of Kern’s Leave It To Jane for The New Amsterdam Theatre Company’s Jerome Kern Festival at Town Hall. All four shows were performed in new editions prepared from the original materials by McGlinn. Missing items were scored by Warner.

After On Your Toes, Mauceri performed Gershwin’s Girl Crazy in concert with the Boston Pops Orchestra as his next project.  There was no reconstruction on this project. The orchestra parts were rented from Tams-Witmark; and the orchestra played from orchestra parts that later proved to be corrupt.

Here is perhaps the best place to break the narrative of restoration efforts to discuss the condition of most surviving musical theatre materials from the first half of the twentieth century.  It would be best to begin with the Tams-Witmark Music Library, because most of the musicals and operettas written between 1900 and 1943 were licensed to Tams-Witmark for lease to stock and amateur performance groups. The company was created in 1925 as a result of the merger of M. Witmark & Sons Music Library with the Arthur Tams Library. The Witmark Music Library held the US performance rights for European operas and operettas and many early 20th century Broadway scores, ranging from Herbert and Reginald De Koven to Kern.  The Arthur Tams Library was basically a “choral” house, offering rental materials for major choral works, such as Händel’s Messiah or Haydn’s The Creation.

No set of orchestra parts is ever copied correctly:  handwritten notes on an orchestra score are not always easily deciphered correctly by the copyist, who is usually working under a deadline. No matter how meticulously the orchestrator wrote the score, the process of orchestration adds to the errors, perhaps from a mental lapse or a dinner break.  As a result much of the early orchestra rehearsals are spent correcting notes, which some players do in pencil. Other players may opt to keep the wrong notes in the part to make their stand-ins look like poorer players. We may consider this set of parts the first generation of a set of orchestra parts.

After the Broadway run and subsequent tour, the parts are in worse shape, not only falling apart from constant use, but suffering from problems on the road.  A player may transpose a part to another instrument or may be asked by the musical director to take over a solo from another part, and these changes may remain in the parts from then on.

If these orchestra parts survive the run, they may become the basis for the set of parts in the rental catalog. What has been discovered, over the years, is that these early orchestra parts, copied by hand in ink by the Witmark music staff, often suffer from copy errors made in reading the original score or, if no orchestra score exists, in creating a new set of parts from an in-house orchestration.  And just as often, during a run of performances, a part might be re-copied by the musical director or the player, incorporating their own copy errors into the mix. A new set of parts copied from this older set then introduces a whole new layer of errors.  As this process continues, we no longer deal with first generation materials, but corrupt second and third generation performance materials.

For many shows, the rental package was simplified: in their marketing a new score, M. Witmark & Sons published for sale dance arrangements and medleys for small 12-piece “hotel (or palm court) orchestra,” as well as for medium, and grand orchestra. The published medleys for “medium” orchestra often replaced the original Broadway overture in the rental package. A show with a large orchestration of 30+ players could be reduced for performance by an orchestra of 20-25 players. In the case of Jerome Kern’s 1917 Princess Theatre show, Oh, Boy!, the original orchestration for 19 players was reduced to 12.

Around 1920, the Shubert production office created The Century Library to lease shows that the Shubert brothers had produced or had contracted to be performed in their chain of theatres on Broadway and around the country. The Century Library catalog included European operettas (often with interpolations by the Schubert Organization staff writers) that the Shuberts had produced on Broadway, along with American musicals and operettas produced by the Shuberts, including Romberg’s The Student Prince, Maytime, and My Maryland, Porter’s The Gay Divorce, and Rodgers and Hart’s Dearest Enemy and Peggy-Ann.  Complicating the situation, The Century Library offered large and small (12-piece) orchestrations for each show.

When The Century Library closed operations, many of the shows in their catalog found their way into the Tams-Witmark catalog. As time passed and the Tams-Witmark customers requested only the latest up-to-date shows, many of the older rental properties fell by the wayside.  As a result, the older rental materials have suffered from neglect and little to no usage or maintenance. In the case of shows not performed in many years, the heavy paper for the orchestra parts may be crumbling and the ink fading. These shows require major editing and cleanup work.

In the 1970s, Tams-Witmark donated a vast quantity of this early performance material – libretti, prompt books, and orchestra parts –to the Library of Congress, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Wisconsin.  These donations have proved a great asset for research and restoration.

The situation is even worse for shows that were never acquired by a rental library.  Many of the later Rodgers and Hart shows were leased by their producer’s office, and the original performance materials were sent to the St. Louis Municipal Opera or the Starlight Summer Theatre, among others, which were returned with missing or transposed parts. In many cases, the original orchestra scores are missing. In the case of Porter’s 1935 musical Jubilee, the Sam Harris office sent the materials to the St. Louis Municipal Opera in 1948; and the return of the original materials was lost in transit.

Returning to the history of recent restorations, in March 1986 the New Amsterdam Theatre Company produced two concert performances of Jubilee, Porter’s lost 1935 musical with playwright Moss Hart. Since the performance materials had vanished, this show was rebuilt from Porter’s rehearsal scores by Moore (orchestrations, vocal, and dance arrangements) and Krasker (script continuity).

One month later, McGlinn conducted several performances of Vincent Youman’s 1925 musical comedy No, No, Nanette at the Carnegie Recital Hall. Everything was reconstructed from the original full scores except for the London interpolation “Take A Little One-Step,” which McGlinn asked Moore to reconstruct from the London cast recording.

Shortly after this, McGlinn conducted the original orchestrations of the Rodgers and Hart show Babes In Arms at the Library of Congress. Moore was asked to fill in several missing instrument parts and to write a two-piano break that was originally improvised by the two pianists in the 1938 production. In 1988, following a concert at Lincoln Center, Babes In Arms was recorded by Haile and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for New World Records. For the recording, the conductor and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization hired Moore to create full scores for several numbers that McGlinn had played from parts at the Library of Congress.

In 1987, McGlinn conducted for the Library of Congress the American premiere of Gershwin’s 1924 London musical Primrose and his 1933 Broadway flop Pardon My English, two of the shows found in the Secaucus warehouse. Moore provided fill-in work on Primrose, and Warner worked on Pardon My English.

Around the same time, Tony Corona of EMI-Angel Records offered McGlinn a recording contract to record Broadway material in original orchestrations, using performers and orchestras under contract with EMI-Angel.  The first recording was a set of Gershwin songs by soprano Kiri Te Kanawa. Again, McGlinn called on Warner and Moore to supply period orchestrations when it was discovered that the originals no longer existed. This recording was followed by a set of Gershwin Overtures.  During his contract with EMI-Angel, McGlinn also recorded albums of overtures by Kern and Porter.

In 1987, McGlinn convinced EMI-Angel to record with a studio cast the complete score for Show Boat, including an appendix of everything ever composed for the show that could be located. With the exception of the music written for the 1928 London production and 1946 revival, which had orchestrations, Warner and Moore were asked to score the remaining appendix material.  EMI filmed much of the recording at London’s Abbey Road Studio, and their publicity piece was aired on PBS on late 1987.  The CD was released in 1988.

In 1988, as part of the PBS and Brooklyn Academy of Music celebration of the Gershwin Centenary, Michael Tilson Thomas conducted restorations of the two shows, Of Thee I Sing and its sequel, Let Them Eat Cake, orchestrated by Warner.  In the week after the productions closed, Tilson Thomas and his cast recorded the two shows for CBS Records. The week before these concert performances, the Gershwin Celebration opened with a revue of numbers from the Gershwin shows and movies, using original orchestrations, supervised by Moore, the event’s librarian. PBS filmed this revue, and the broadcast, which added performances from London and commentary by Tilson Thomas, won an Emmy Award.

In 1989, McGlinn recorded the original 1934 score of Porter’s Anything Goes, which was no longer performed following a successful 1962 Off-Broadway revival that replaced about half of the score with other Porter songs and used a small combo for the orchestra. Most of the original 1934 score was intact at Tams-Witmark for rental; however, many parts were missing, as the score had been simplified for stock-amateur use.  Spialek and Warner helped McGlinn restore the missing pieces.

According to an article he wrote for the New York Times on April 9,1989, McGlinn restored Kern’s Sitting Pretty almost entirely derived from the original orchestral manuscripts of Bennett, Max Steiner and Hilding Anderson.  The orchestration for one song was missing, but it was re-created from music found in Kern’s London show The Cabaret Girl, with new orchestrations by Warner.  Following its performances at the Carnegie Recital Hall, Sitting Pretty was recorded for New World Records.

In 1989, Leonore Gershwin set up, with Robert Kimball, the Roxbury Recording series to record the shows of Ira and George Gershwin in a manner that was as close to the originals as possible. For the 1990 recording of Gershwin’s Girl Crazy, Krasker outlined the work that went into restoring the musical score, beginning with the assumption that the published vocal score, which Ira had commissioned in the early 1950s, was accurate.  This assumption was proven to be incorrect the further one got into the actual performance materials. To correct the errors, Moore created a new orchestra score from the parts, and Warner supplied the missing arrangements initially played onstage by the original vocal group, the “Foursome.”

Krasker’s work for Roxbury included the 1928 and 1931 versions of Strike Up The Band, recorded in 1991, Lady Be Good in 1992, Oh, Kay and Pardon My English in 1994.  As the only full score that exists from the 1928 score is “The Man I Love,” the orchestration by William D. Brohn and Steve Bowen for Strike Up The Band was almost completely new. Warner’s orchestrations for Oh, Kay! were also entirely new, as they were written for a smaller orchestra than the one used to perform the original Broadway score.  For Pardon My English, Krasker used, and re-edited, the McGlinn materials from the Library of Congress; but the recording made cuts in the score to fit onto one CD and removed the title song.

The 1991 release of Strike Up The Band was Krasker’s reconstruction of the 1928 score, with an appendix of several numbers from the 1931 revision. In 2011, following Warner’s death, the complete 1931 version of Warner’s orchestration was finally released.

In 1990, McGlinn conducted and directed his sixth restoration for the Carnegie Recital Hall, the Kern/Otto Harbach The Cat and the Fiddle.

In 1991, The Houston Grand Opera produced their “opera house” version of Herbert’s 1903 “extravaganza” Babes In Toyland. Moore was hired to cover the musical adaptation, striving to keep as much of the original orchestrations as possible, but the production was ill-fated, and the Houston Grand Opera has never revived the production nor mentioned it in any history of their productions.

In 1991 McGlinn recorded for EMI the Broadway Showstoppers album, which gave McGlinn the opportunity to record numbers from shows that he could not convince EMI to record complete. This was followed by several other compilations, the Jerome Kern Treasury, which featured the orchestrations of Frank Saddler, chief orchestrator for Kern until his death in 1921, and The Busby Berkely Album, which restored the musical numbers for several early Warner Brothers films. These recordings (along with Thomas Hampson’s Cole Porter: Night and Day and Kim Criswell’s The Lorelei ) gave McGlinn the opportunity to restore songs from shows but, sadly in some cases, not the entire show.

In 1994, City Center initiated City Center Encores!, its own series of musicals in concert. While this series has included productions requiring restoration work, the series has never limited itself to a specific time period for its productions.  Thus, its concerts have included shows that opened on Broadway both before and after 1943—Fiorello!  (1958), Strike Up The Band (1931), Where’s Charley? (1948), and Music In The Air (1932).

In 1998, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization hired Moore to restore the original materials for the Rodgers and Hart 1938 musical The Boys From Syracuse, which was performed in concert by City Center Encores! and then recorded by DRG Records.  Following this work, he was asked to complete the performance edition of Babes In Arms by creating full scores for all the numbers that did not have full scores and cleaning up the orchestra parts for the numbers that had not been performed in either concert by McGlinn or Haile. The City Center Encores! production of Babes In Arms was also recorded by DRG.

The biggest difficulty encountered by many of these restoration efforts is their failure to recreate the sound originally heard on Broadway for any number of reasons.  Looking back, the failure could stem from poor performances, incomplete orchestrations, inaccurate orchestrations, missing scores, or stylistic problems in tempi or vocal and instrumental performances.  In many cases, the restoration work by McGlinn was simply to clean up and restore those numbers needed for a recording or concert. Unfortunately, this approach ignored all the incidental pieces  (reprises and utility numbers, such as the Exit Music, Entr’Acte, scene changes, and music underscoring dialogue) and left the full restoration work for another time. In general, partial restorations or reconstructions leave scores in limbo—literally the scores remain in an incomplete state, unavailable for a stage production.

In 2001, McGlinn began a project to record the works of Kern and Herbert for the Packard Humanities Institute. None of the recordings made between 2001 and 2002, when McGlinn left the project, have been commercially released, and the editorial work to publish scores and performance materials remains in limbo.

Following McGlinn’s death in 2009, the JMV Art Preservation Foundation took up the challenge of recording period music as accurately as possible, in orchestrations, style, or tempi.  Since 2010 the Foundation has provided the funding for recordings of Herbert’s Music for Piano and Cello , 102 Collected Songs and Eileen, the first Broadway success of Rodgers and Hart, Dearest Enemy, and Kern’s 1933 musical comedy Roberta.