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Great American Music: Broadway Musicals

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Give my regards to Broadway... . Is it possible to read those lyrics, let alone hear them, without mentally filling in: Remember me to Herald Square? Have you begun to hum or sing it to yourself, with the words and notes carrying you back in time to the Broadway of George M. Cohan and the heyday of Tin Pan Alley? For most people who've grown up with and shared America's mus Give my regards to Broadway... . Is it possible to read those lyrics, let alone hear them, without mentally filling in: Remember me to Herald Square? Have you begun to hum or sing it to yourself, with the words and notes carrying you back in time to the Broadway of George M. Cohan and the heyday of Tin Pan Alley? For most people who've grown up with and shared America's musical heritage, such a phrase opens the floodgates to a wealth of memories and feelings because, after all, that's what great songs do. What a delight, then, to be able to promise you the same experience in an entire course. For in Professor Bill Messenger's Great American Music: Broadway Musicals, you get the story and the music, as well—and not only in the examples expertly played by Professor Messenger at the piano to illustrate insights, techniques, or subtleties of composition. You'll also hear rare recordings of groundbreaking artists such as Nora Bayes, the singer selected by Cohan to record his unofficial World War I anthem, "Over There,"and Fanny Brice, the great star immortalized in Funny Girl. And you'll hear contemporary recreations that reconstruct the sound of early musical theater, as well. You'll listen in on recorded interviews that take you behind the scenes of some of Broadway's biggest hits and most memorable moments. Beyond Nostalgia: A Complete Learning Experience But Great American Music: Broadway Musicals is far more than just an immersion in musical nostalgia. Professor Messenger ranges across the entire culture of which music is a part, teaching you some of the intricacies of musical composition and song construction—and how they were used to create specific effects—as well as the social and historical backdrop against which musical theater needs to be considered. You'll learn, for example, how Jerome Kern dealt with what was perhaps Broadway's first attempt to use music's technical subtleties as a way to suggest time and place when he was writing Show Boat, deliberately incorporating into his music for "Ol' Man River" a five-note pentatonic scale often used in Negro spirituals. Professor Messenger tells how "You're a Grand Old Flag," today one of Cohan's most memorable songs, was greeted with dismay and anger when Cohan introduced it in his 1906 musical, George Washington, Jr., with its original and affectionate title and lyric, "You're a Grand Old Rag." Though Cohan quickly rewrote the song in the form we know today, sheet music for the original version—at a time when sheet music was immensely popular—had already reached stores all over New York City. Visiting one store after another, Cohan managed to retrieve almost every copy, burning them and replacing them with the new version. Today, there are only a half-dozen very valuable copies of the original in existence. A Stage that Is Never Far from the Real World But the harsh reception given the original version of Cohan's song is far from the only reminder this course offers that the Broadway stage, as wondrous an escape as it might be, is still an illusion, with only the flimsiest of curtains separating it from the real-world passions—and even life-and-death conflicts—from which it draws. Consider just one moment in the life of Jerome Kern, a moment marked by the clanging of an alarm clock he did not hear. After his heart had been broken by a flashy showgirl and vowing never again to be taken advantage of, Kern had met and married a timid 19-year-old English girl 10 years his junior and brought her back to America, an overwhelming experience for her. On the morning he was to sail to England with his producer, Charles Frohman, Kern overslept. By the time his still-timid wife had decided to awaken him, Kern had missed his voyage. The ship was the ill-fated Lusitania, and Frohman was one of 1,198 who perished on it. Kern survived to complete a fruitful career that would include, 11 years later, his remarkable score for Show Boat, with melodies, like its haunting "Ol' Man River," that are still enjoyed today. In today's era of songs written and produced specifically for compact discs, it's easy to forget that an overwhelming number of standards that have both delighted and helped mend the broken hearts of Americans for decades—and will undoubtedly still be doing so a century from now—were, like "Ol' Man River," originally written for the stage. "My Funny Valentine," for example, came from Rodgers and Hart's Babes in Arms; "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!; "Someone to Watch Over Me" from George and Ira Gershwin's Oh, Kay!; "Begin the Beguine" from Cole Porter's Jubilee; and "Almost Like Being in Love" from Lerner and Loewe's Brigadoon. We've heard these songs—and hundreds more like them—for as long as we can remember. In many ways, they're the soundtrack of America. For millions of us the music makes up the soundtrack of our own lives, as well; if you were somehow able to remove them from our collective memory, it's hard to imagine any of us as quite the same people. But the total creative output of the extraordinary roster of artists who gave us these songs tells only part of the story, which would be incomplete even with the addition of the performers, writers, choreographers, directors, and others who also helped create the stage magic that launched these songs into immortality. A Capsule View of Two Vibrant Centuries That's because American musical theater, much as we often concentrate on the so-called "golden age" of the 1950s, spans the history of two vibrant centuries: the era of the minstrel show, whose contributions to American music were immense, in spite of the embarrassment we still feel at many of its images; vaudeville; ragtime; the revue; and the age of fully integrated book musicals launched by the 1927 production of Show Boat. And that history, moreover, has an importance that goes beyond music. "Musicals, the great ones, speak to us in voices we both recognize and pay attention to," notes Professor Messenger. "Half a century after the show Carousel premiered, Billy Bigelow still speaks to our sense of right and wrong. We don't want him to commit that robbery! We regret that he does. "The paradox of the Broadway musical is that it's an escape from reality, while simultaneously being a confrontation with it. The betrayal that destroys Camelot is with us here and now." It's difficult to imagine a finer teacher for this material than Professor Messenger; he is a scholar, teacher, and professional musician. His course, Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion, makes clear, even to those with no musical training, the techniques, principles, and innovations that make it possible for music to embody so much. In bringing those skills to Great American Music: Broadway Musicals, Professor Messenger has created a complete learning experience—educational, insightful, and sublimely enjoyable—that can forever change the way you experience musical theater. transcript book


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Give my regards to Broadway... . Is it possible to read those lyrics, let alone hear them, without mentally filling in: Remember me to Herald Square? Have you begun to hum or sing it to yourself, with the words and notes carrying you back in time to the Broadway of George M. Cohan and the heyday of Tin Pan Alley? For most people who've grown up with and shared America's mus Give my regards to Broadway... . Is it possible to read those lyrics, let alone hear them, without mentally filling in: Remember me to Herald Square? Have you begun to hum or sing it to yourself, with the words and notes carrying you back in time to the Broadway of George M. Cohan and the heyday of Tin Pan Alley? For most people who've grown up with and shared America's musical heritage, such a phrase opens the floodgates to a wealth of memories and feelings because, after all, that's what great songs do. What a delight, then, to be able to promise you the same experience in an entire course. For in Professor Bill Messenger's Great American Music: Broadway Musicals, you get the story and the music, as well—and not only in the examples expertly played by Professor Messenger at the piano to illustrate insights, techniques, or subtleties of composition. You'll also hear rare recordings of groundbreaking artists such as Nora Bayes, the singer selected by Cohan to record his unofficial World War I anthem, "Over There,"and Fanny Brice, the great star immortalized in Funny Girl. And you'll hear contemporary recreations that reconstruct the sound of early musical theater, as well. You'll listen in on recorded interviews that take you behind the scenes of some of Broadway's biggest hits and most memorable moments. Beyond Nostalgia: A Complete Learning Experience But Great American Music: Broadway Musicals is far more than just an immersion in musical nostalgia. Professor Messenger ranges across the entire culture of which music is a part, teaching you some of the intricacies of musical composition and song construction—and how they were used to create specific effects—as well as the social and historical backdrop against which musical theater needs to be considered. You'll learn, for example, how Jerome Kern dealt with what was perhaps Broadway's first attempt to use music's technical subtleties as a way to suggest time and place when he was writing Show Boat, deliberately incorporating into his music for "Ol' Man River" a five-note pentatonic scale often used in Negro spirituals. Professor Messenger tells how "You're a Grand Old Flag," today one of Cohan's most memorable songs, was greeted with dismay and anger when Cohan introduced it in his 1906 musical, George Washington, Jr., with its original and affectionate title and lyric, "You're a Grand Old Rag." Though Cohan quickly rewrote the song in the form we know today, sheet music for the original version—at a time when sheet music was immensely popular—had already reached stores all over New York City. Visiting one store after another, Cohan managed to retrieve almost every copy, burning them and replacing them with the new version. Today, there are only a half-dozen very valuable copies of the original in existence. A Stage that Is Never Far from the Real World But the harsh reception given the original version of Cohan's song is far from the only reminder this course offers that the Broadway stage, as wondrous an escape as it might be, is still an illusion, with only the flimsiest of curtains separating it from the real-world passions—and even life-and-death conflicts—from which it draws. Consider just one moment in the life of Jerome Kern, a moment marked by the clanging of an alarm clock he did not hear. After his heart had been broken by a flashy showgirl and vowing never again to be taken advantage of, Kern had met and married a timid 19-year-old English girl 10 years his junior and brought her back to America, an overwhelming experience for her. On the morning he was to sail to England with his producer, Charles Frohman, Kern overslept. By the time his still-timid wife had decided to awaken him, Kern had missed his voyage. The ship was the ill-fated Lusitania, and Frohman was one of 1,198 who perished on it. Kern survived to complete a fruitful career that would include, 11 years later, his remarkable score for Show Boat, with melodies, like its haunting "Ol' Man River," that are still enjoyed today. In today's era of songs written and produced specifically for compact discs, it's easy to forget that an overwhelming number of standards that have both delighted and helped mend the broken hearts of Americans for decades—and will undoubtedly still be doing so a century from now—were, like "Ol' Man River," originally written for the stage. "My Funny Valentine," for example, came from Rodgers and Hart's Babes in Arms; "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!; "Someone to Watch Over Me" from George and Ira Gershwin's Oh, Kay!; "Begin the Beguine" from Cole Porter's Jubilee; and "Almost Like Being in Love" from Lerner and Loewe's Brigadoon. We've heard these songs—and hundreds more like them—for as long as we can remember. In many ways, they're the soundtrack of America. For millions of us the music makes up the soundtrack of our own lives, as well; if you were somehow able to remove them from our collective memory, it's hard to imagine any of us as quite the same people. But the total creative output of the extraordinary roster of artists who gave us these songs tells only part of the story, which would be incomplete even with the addition of the performers, writers, choreographers, directors, and others who also helped create the stage magic that launched these songs into immortality. A Capsule View of Two Vibrant Centuries That's because American musical theater, much as we often concentrate on the so-called "golden age" of the 1950s, spans the history of two vibrant centuries: the era of the minstrel show, whose contributions to American music were immense, in spite of the embarrassment we still feel at many of its images; vaudeville; ragtime; the revue; and the age of fully integrated book musicals launched by the 1927 production of Show Boat. And that history, moreover, has an importance that goes beyond music. "Musicals, the great ones, speak to us in voices we both recognize and pay attention to," notes Professor Messenger. "Half a century after the show Carousel premiered, Billy Bigelow still speaks to our sense of right and wrong. We don't want him to commit that robbery! We regret that he does. "The paradox of the Broadway musical is that it's an escape from reality, while simultaneously being a confrontation with it. The betrayal that destroys Camelot is with us here and now." It's difficult to imagine a finer teacher for this material than Professor Messenger; he is a scholar, teacher, and professional musician. His course, Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion, makes clear, even to those with no musical training, the techniques, principles, and innovations that make it possible for music to embody so much. In bringing those skills to Great American Music: Broadway Musicals, Professor Messenger has created a complete learning experience—educational, insightful, and sublimely enjoyable—that can forever change the way you experience musical theater. transcript book

30 review for Great American Music: Broadway Musicals

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    Parts of this were awesome, and parts were just ok. I got some really interesting tidbits about early American musicals in the form of minstrel shows, vaudeville, and burlesque. There was a really cool interview at the end with Stephen Schwartz, who explains the evolution of the song that began as "Making Good" and ended up as "The Wizard and I." And the parts spanning the Jazz Age through the Golden Age of musicals was riveting. I came away with even more respect for the talents of the immortal Parts of this were awesome, and parts were just ok. I got some really interesting tidbits about early American musicals in the form of minstrel shows, vaudeville, and burlesque. There was a really cool interview at the end with Stephen Schwartz, who explains the evolution of the song that began as "Making Good" and ended up as "The Wizard and I." And the parts spanning the Jazz Age through the Golden Age of musicals was riveting. I came away with even more respect for the talents of the immortal George Gershwin, and fell unexpectedly in love with Irving Berlin. (The man. Already loved the music.) This lecture series was perfectly poised to be all of my favorite things. Nerdgasm ahoy. But what kept me from loving it really kept me from loving it. First, Bill Messenger, the lecturer, consistently says "thee-ay-ter." It won't bother everyone, but it absolutely drove me up the wall. Second, it's the way Bill Messenger sings. He plays piano to great effect, but when he takes the opportunity to sing portions of a song - very useful in understanding the progression of musicals - he does it in this weird style. He recites the lyrics in a loud, rushed way, and talks rather than sings, kind of like Rex Harrison. Rex Harrison if he were leading a sing-along. We get the music in the background, then the lyrics in this declarative style, almost like he's saying "this is where a singer would sing these lyrics." I'd rather have had him singing, even badly, or a professional singer than the perfunctory recitation of lyrics over music. As information goes, though, I'd still recommend it. I'm no musical theater expert, even after sixteen discs of lectures, but I do feel like I have a greater contextual understanding of songs, shows, and theater trends. All in all, a win.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Audiobook. No matter how good a book is, I rarely wish it were longer, but I wished this delightful series of lectures on American musical theater had included a few more hours so the lecturer could spend more time on more recent shows. The lectures cover the history of Broadway musicals from early minstrel shows, ragtime, vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley up to the modern day and also discuss topics like song structure. Lots of musical examples, both instrumental and voice, are included. I’d enjoy l Audiobook. No matter how good a book is, I rarely wish it were longer, but I wished this delightful series of lectures on American musical theater had included a few more hours so the lecturer could spend more time on more recent shows. The lectures cover the history of Broadway musicals from early minstrel shows, ragtime, vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley up to the modern day and also discuss topics like song structure. Lots of musical examples, both instrumental and voice, are included. I’d enjoy listening to it again.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bronson

    This was a very interesting course. It's really well done and I learned a lot. He spends a lot of time establishing the background and building up to where broadway is today or was 15-20 years ago. I would have liked to learned more about 1940s to current productions. We didn't really get to the 1940s until lecture 12 or 13 out of 16 and he did get into more current productions but not in great detail. I learned a lot and I'd like to learn more. I'd be very interested to hear his opinion on Hami This was a very interesting course. It's really well done and I learned a lot. He spends a lot of time establishing the background and building up to where broadway is today or was 15-20 years ago. I would have liked to learned more about 1940s to current productions. We didn't really get to the 1940s until lecture 12 or 13 out of 16 and he did get into more current productions but not in great detail. I learned a lot and I'd like to learn more. I'd be very interested to hear his opinion on Hamilton and Book of Mormon.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Arnsdorf

    Loving this Great Courses history of Musical Theater in the US. The professor is knowledgeable and plays piano along with some of the songs he discusses. It's a lot of info if you don't have context- I'm not a big musical fan but I do have a few favorites. After hearing more about the history and context of these productions, it makes me want to go back and see more. Definitely an enjoyable listen!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    while i really enjoyed learning about the minstrel and ragtime histories of broadway, this collection of lectures failed to give adequate attention to musicals from the 1960s on. of course, broadway was more influential at the turn of the century than it is now, but condensing so many decades into 2 lectures was a shame, especially since those are the musicals with which most people are familiar. my favorite lectures were the ones focused on specific composers (irving berlin, gershwin, rodgers & while i really enjoyed learning about the minstrel and ragtime histories of broadway, this collection of lectures failed to give adequate attention to musicals from the 1960s on. of course, broadway was more influential at the turn of the century than it is now, but condensing so many decades into 2 lectures was a shame, especially since those are the musicals with which most people are familiar. my favorite lectures were the ones focused on specific composers (irving berlin, gershwin, rodgers & hammerstein), though i was surprised sondheim didn't get his own. also disappointing: no discussion whatsoever of rent (a ridiculous and kind of uncomfortable oversight), a dismissive attitude toward idina menzel's voice (messenger is now dead to me), and a general lack of organization or a thesis in the latter lectures (maybe theme rather than chronology would've been a better organizing principle?); they got rather list-y, though i enjoyed the concluding focus on the evolution of a single song in wicked. given that messenger talks a lot about how post-1950s broadway music is no longer synonymous with popular music, that it often exists in its own separate bubble, i'd be so interested to hear what he would make of hamilton. the cast recording topped the billboard rap charts!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Messenger is a great piano player, but a pretty terrible singer, so some of the parts of these lectures where he sing-talks through old standards are pretty cringe worthy. Some great stuff about minstrel shows, vaudeville and burlesque. However I knew we were going to be in trouble when we were 7 hours into a 12 hour lecture series and he'd barely gotten to Irving Berlin. He gives shortshrift to many important musicals from the 1950s onward. He also omits things I find important. For example, he Messenger is a great piano player, but a pretty terrible singer, so some of the parts of these lectures where he sing-talks through old standards are pretty cringe worthy. Some great stuff about minstrel shows, vaudeville and burlesque. However I knew we were going to be in trouble when we were 7 hours into a 12 hour lecture series and he'd barely gotten to Irving Berlin. He gives shortshrift to many important musicals from the 1950s onward. He also omits things I find important. For example, he spends around 10 minutes talking about the success of Hello Dolly! for Jerry Herman and never mentions Carol Channing, who was instrumental in its success (yet somehow mentions Barbra Streisand in the subpar film version.) A lot of time is spent on forgettable early musicals at the expense of really important later ones. At least he never really discusses Cats!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gil Bradshaw

    I give this a 7/10. Messenger is an excellent lecturer and he goes from way back in time in 1828 and pretty much stays pre-1920 for 12 of the 16 lectures. His lecture on Tin Pan Alley was epic as were the lectures on Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and Gershwin. I'll be honest, I would have preferred that all 16 lectures started at 1920, but it makes a lot of sense to cover it like he did because musical theater was SO much more influential at the turn of the century and in the early 20th century tha I give this a 7/10. Messenger is an excellent lecturer and he goes from way back in time in 1828 and pretty much stays pre-1920 for 12 of the 16 lectures. His lecture on Tin Pan Alley was epic as were the lectures on Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and Gershwin. I'll be honest, I would have preferred that all 16 lectures started at 1920, but it makes a lot of sense to cover it like he did because musical theater was SO much more influential at the turn of the century and in the early 20th century than it is now. There are stories of musical selling 10 million copies of sheet music to people who would go home and sing and play them around the piano. Even though I'm only interested in the musicals in the last half of the twentieth century, this is the tail end of real musical theater.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Nealen

    DVD course of 12 hours on the history of Broadway musicals. The instructor focused on time periods before 1940 because the music and photos are not so readily available as videos of musicals from the 1940s and forward. Learning about the history that led to the more famous and more recent musicals was very interesting. I am glad the instructor chose to structure the course that way but some people may be disappointed by the small amount of time spent on musicals from the last fifty years. Please DVD course of 12 hours on the history of Broadway musicals. The instructor focused on time periods before 1940 because the music and photos are not so readily available as videos of musicals from the 1940s and forward. Learning about the history that led to the more famous and more recent musicals was very interesting. I am glad the instructor chose to structure the course that way but some people may be disappointed by the small amount of time spent on musicals from the last fifty years. Please note that this course was created in 2006 so there are many new musicals that became famous after this publication.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex Shrugged

    Lots of music and if you like old show tunes, lots of fun. There is good historical information when he talks about the history/origins of show tunes and music. Some of the lectures require one to know about musical chords, but even without that knowledge, it is a good lecture. Bill Messenger is bright and cheery. He is also a good piano player, but not a good singer. He knows, this so he talks his way through songs rather than singing them. There are original recording where available, or Bill p Lots of music and if you like old show tunes, lots of fun. There is good historical information when he talks about the history/origins of show tunes and music. Some of the lectures require one to know about musical chords, but even without that knowledge, it is a good lecture. Bill Messenger is bright and cheery. He is also a good piano player, but not a good singer. He knows, this so he talks his way through songs rather than singing them. There are original recording where available, or Bill plays the tune on the piano, or he assembled a group to sing the song when a real singer is needed. I'd listen to these lectures again.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jane Wetzel

    Loved the course. I was happily surprised at how many of the old songs I knew and could sing along with. It will be sad to lose those old songs. I hope they are taught in school music classes. We are so fortunate to have so many old recordings of these old classics. It was interesting to hear about some of the origins and influences on the old and newer popular Broadway music. I enjoyed Bill Messenger's presentation.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    This is a 16 part course on the history of the Broadway Musical, with deep emphasis on the origins - from the minstrel show to burlesque and vaudeville, showing how the Broadway musicals we know today grew out of popular culture of the previous centuries. There is very little focus on the past 50 years, but this is important knowledge for anybody who love musicals and should understand how they came to be.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Had to dash this back to the library. I never have as much time to watch these things on DVD as I to do listen to them in the car. Really enjoy Bill Messenger's teaching / examples. I love it that he can play the piano so well, and can demonstrate everything he talks about on the piano. This is a good series, but I need to revisit it when I can watch it all!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Not a book at all, but a series of very entertaining and informative lectures from a fantastic teacher who incorporates music clips, news and interview excerpts, as well as his own piano playing and singing. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adriane Robinson

    I listened to this version which was great as it included sound clips. For a musical geek like me, it was great!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jeff J.

    A series of lectures on the history of musical theater in the United States. The audio lectures are greatly enhanced through the use of recordings and piano recitations.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Betsy Starks

    Entertaining and informative. I wish Messenger had spent more time in the history of the 20th century shows and Jess time on the musical progressions. It is an audible that I’ll play again.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Nash

    This was a perfectly acceptable set of Great Courses lectures. My girlfriend who is a musical theater nerd thought that the lectures didn't have enough detail and focused too much on the earlier history at the expense of spending time on more modern broadway shows (1970 to present are covered in a single lecture). Personally I thought it was a pretty good overview in the same style as most Great Courses sets.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    This was an outstanding course and listen. Even though I minored in Theater in college and grew up in NY along with the Golden Age of Broadway, I learned a ton about history, song writers, producers, choreographers and how Musical Theater evolved. The author/teacher was wonderful. He has an engaging voice, is super knowledgeable and made the course so enjoyable. I couldn't wait to get into my car and listen every day. The music was great and I loved hearing the history of songs that have become This was an outstanding course and listen. Even though I minored in Theater in college and grew up in NY along with the Golden Age of Broadway, I learned a ton about history, song writers, producers, choreographers and how Musical Theater evolved. The author/teacher was wonderful. He has an engaging voice, is super knowledgeable and made the course so enjoyable. I couldn't wait to get into my car and listen every day. The music was great and I loved hearing the history of songs that have become standards from the turn of the century and understand their context in the theatre world. Bravo! Encore!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This training course of Great American Music: Broadway Musicals covering the mid-1800s to the present. The lecturer was very weak during the first 100 years. The lecturer was strong from the 1930s to the 1950s seemed to have the lecturer's most interest. Otherwise, he seemed to rush through the rest of the musicals and seemed to not to like the music very well, except the 1930s to 1950s. I was hoping for more. Maybe the lecturer should have stayed with his interests.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    This series of lectures was a real joy to listen to. And I’ve listened to this series twice. Bill Messenger is great. I especially love his piano playing and discussion of how the songs are constructed. The lectures are at their best discussing the early history of musicals. I enjoyed learning about the interplay of black and white musicians in the early years. The lectures ended too soon. I look forward to a second edition or follow up.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bill Glover

    You can learn more about jazz by learning more about the history of American musicals. The great American song book comes almost entirely from Broadway's history. Messenger gets a little 'the good old days were better' toward the end. He even claims Hair might have been bad for society, encouraging moral laxity and such I suppose. That's a tough sell for a jazz man who has a firm idea about heroin deaths in the jazz crowd. Eh, whatever, a really good course.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    As a person whose career is in the arts, I found this history absolutely fascinating. The course takes you from the origins of the minstrel show through to the modern Broadway musical. There were so many elements of this journey that surprised me. For anyone that enjoys musicals or just understanding the evolution of an art form, this is definitely worth a listen.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    Delightful series. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer because Messenger is forced to gloss over or skip entirely many excellent musicals due to time constraints. I learned many things about early American musical theater and composers such as Irvin Berlin and George Gershwin. I'm sure I will listen to this again.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I know minstrel shows and vaudeville are an important foundation of Broadway shows, but nearly two-thirds of the course seemed focused on that. A mere four lectures were spent on what I thought the whole course was going to be.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Great lectures full of facts and anecdotes and opinions that it's fun to differ with. Lots of music, actual recordings as well as the lecturer at the piano, with a wonderful focus on the first forty years.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    the notes of 'old man river' used just the black keys - who knew! Many interesting facts and some lovely old songs to singalong with.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Entertaining & educational though I felt too much time was devoted to everything before 1930 and not enough to more recent material. Entertaining & educational though I felt too much time was devoted to everything before 1930 and not enough to more recent material.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dee Mills

    Thoroughly enjoyed this audio book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    wildct2003

    Listened to part 1. Can't wait to get to part 2. Good storytelling.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sher

    My parents were both born in 1917, which means they would have turned 100 years old this year. They were both musically gifted, and I grew up listening to "their songs," songs from the early 20th century. So this little walk through the earliest Broadway musicals was like revisiting my childhood in so many ways. I was amazed at how many of those songs I knew from hearing my dad sing to my mom's piano accompaniment. My mom played by ear in that style known as "strider." Honestly, when I heard Bil My parents were both born in 1917, which means they would have turned 100 years old this year. They were both musically gifted, and I grew up listening to "their songs," songs from the early 20th century. So this little walk through the earliest Broadway musicals was like revisiting my childhood in so many ways. I was amazed at how many of those songs I knew from hearing my dad sing to my mom's piano accompaniment. My mom played by ear in that style known as "strider." Honestly, when I heard Bill Messenger playing in that style, I could have sworn it was my mother. So I guess I had a personal stake in this course. I learned way more than just what I remembered from my parents, however, and had so much fun doing it. Although I am a classically trained musician, I love a very wide variety of music including music from the Broadway stage, and I have performed my share of it. But to hear it all explained as Mr. Messenger explained it gave my music history-loving heart many "ah-ha" moments. Such a fun course. I recommend it to everyone, but especially to baby boomers who, like me, have some basis for loving the music from old musicals, and learning more about the plays, the actors/musicians and just how it all got started. There is one caveat, however. Many of the examples that Mr. Messenger played on the piano were of such poor fidelity that it was very hard to listen to. I kept thinking that of all the examples, which included very old recordings, why would his modern ones be so distorted??? I hope at some point they remaster those and bring them up to the quality they deserve.

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