Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Arthur

SullivanToday in 1842 the musical half of Gilbert and Sullivan - Sir Arthur Sullivan - was born. Besides the undying music of G&S, he wrote a couple of operas - The Rose of Persia and Ivanhoe - which were popular in their day, and a cantata, The Golden Legend, which was almost as popular as Handel's Messiah. But it is, of course, as half of the pair whose comic light operas (or operettas) are performed more often than any other that he will be remembered.

In "the interests of full disclosure" (to stave off a repeat of a couple of years ago), this from Wikipedia:
Sullivan's artistic output included 23 operas, 13 orchestral works, eight choral or oratorio works, two ballets, incidental music to several plays, and numerous hymns and other church pieces, songs, parlour ballads, part songs, carols, and piano and chamber pieces.

Apart from his comic operas with Gilbert, Sullivan is best known for some of his hymns and parlour songs, including "Onward Christian Soldiers", "The Absent-Minded Beggar", and "The Lost Chord". However, his most critically praised pieces include his Irish Symphony, his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, his Overture di Ballo, The Martyr of Antioch, The Golden Legend, and, of the Savoy Operas, The Yeomen of the Guard. Sullivan's only grand opera, Ivanhoe, was initially successful but has been little heard since his death.

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