Frank Saddler Period
Composers such as A. Baldwin Sloane, John Raymond Hubbell and Louis Hirsch were prolific writers for the Broadway stage after the turn of the twentieth century. We are providing Hirsch’s “Just a Little Love Nest” to give you a flavor of the music.
It was no mere coincidence that the man who kept showing up as their orchestrator was Frank Saddler. After Victor Herbert, Saddler was the next master of stage orchestration in “turn-of-the-Century” New York. He understood the size of the theatrical houses in New York, the talent of the musicians and the type of sound that was pleasing to the theatergoer. Thus, he became indispensable to two, new rising stars, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin.
Berlin wrote mostly for revues at this point in his career, but Kern became the musical theater successor to Herbert. According to one of Kern’s biographers:
“Victor Herbert heard the score of The Girl From Utah when it was first completed: Max Dreyfus had Kern play it for Herbert at the Harms office. ‘This man, Herbert told Dreyfus, ‘will inherit my mantle.’ When Herbert died in 1924, thirty-eight-year-old Jerome Kern was one of the pallbearers with Max Dreyfus, John Philip Sousa, George Gershwin, and others. With Herbert’s passing, Kern became the most venerable, distinguished composer in the American musical theatre.”
From the time Kern wrote his first full score for Broadway (The Red Petticoat, 1912.41), Saddler and Kern became inseparable, and not just because both worked for Max Dreyfus at T.B. Harms. Later, in retrospect, it was said that Saddler and Kern formed a musical “partnership” where they understood how to help each other achieve a better outcome than either could achieve alone. Saddler would work with Kern until he passed away in 1921. With Saddler’s passing, Kern felt unsure of how to move forward. They had worked on eleven shows together, the last one being The Night Boat (1920.04).
During his lifetime, Kern would represent the best example of a composer who grew up in the era of operetta and yet could write very popular songs, such as “They Didn’t Believe Me” in 1914. You can hear the original orchestration in the Evening at Pops, with Guest Conductor John McGlinn, called “Broadway Originals” with hostess Kitty Carlisle Hart.
As we discussed in the Section How Broadway Became Broadway, we have no individual upload of the one song. The easiest way to include the YouTube upload was to include all 57 minutes. “They Didn’t Believe Me” can be found at 13:50 on the video clip.
The music in the era of Kern’s delightful Princess Theatre shows, such as Nobody Home (1915.07), Very Good, Eddie (1915.30), Have a Heart (1917.01), Love O’ Mike (1917.02), Oh, Boy! (1917.06), Leave It to Jane (1917.17) and Oh, Lady! Lady! (1918.03), demonstrated to the public that Kern had a new talent for melody and harmony that could be effective in a much more intimate and witty setting than that found in an operetta. That is not to say that an operetta has to be bombastic; it is just built for a different purpose and achieves it on a different platform of artistic expression.