The work of the orchestrator/arranger is an art and a craft that has been mastered by a fairly small group of people. The composer writes a tune, perhaps a simple melody with chords attached. Almost always it is just for piano. The orchestrator takes that basic tune and determines how it will be converted for a group of musicians—the strings will do this, the woodwinds will do that, a counter-melody for the French horn will go here and the number will reach a crescendo at the appropriate point. The closest analogy is that an artist makes a pencil drawing while someone else turns it into an oil painting, deciding where the colors will go. Or think of a different recording or version of the same song. Those differences are the work of the orchestrator.
By MARK EDEN HOROWITZ
The Music Division of the Library of Congress has a long history of collecting manuscripts and scores of the creators of our musical theater heritage. Among its collections are the papers of Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, George and Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein II, Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Burton Lane, Jonathan Larson, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Sigmund Romberg, Vincent Youmans, and many others.
The work of orchestrators/arrangers with whom those greats collaborated has received less public attention. However, in recent years, it is an area of music collecting that has become a primary focus of the Music Division as scholars and musicians appreciate the value of preserving a richer and more accurate performing history through original scores and parts.
While it has been disappointing to discover how much has been lost to posterity, the Music Division has met with extraordinary success in acquiring what remains of this wealth of material. Too numerous to mention, what follows is a brief history of some of the division’s most important acquisitions in this field of collecting over the past 50 years.
The Music Division’s first notable acquisitions in this area were most likely the orchestral scores for several Victor Herbert operettas, operas and musicals. These came to the Library over many years and from different sources, but particular highlights were a set of 42 scores representing 37 shows given by the widow of Gustav Klemm in 1948, and a set of 45 scores representing 38 shows from the estate of Ella Herbert in 1974.
Other significant early gifts include George Gershwin’s manuscript score for “Porgy and Bess,” which was a bequest to the Library from his mother Rose Gershwin in 1953—along with several other manuscripts of his major concert works. And between 1963 and 1966 Vincent Youmans’ children gave dozens of manuscripts to the Library—these were not scores for complete shows, but for individual numbers including Stephen Jones’ original orchestrations for “Hallelujah!” and “I Want to Be Happy,” and W. H. Challis’s for “More Than You Know.”
Dorothy Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers donated the scores for eight Rodgers and Hammerstein shows in 1966—”Allegro,” “Carousel,” “Flower Drum Song,” “The King and I,” “Oklahoma!,” “Pipe Dream,” “The Sound of Music” and “South Pacific”—all scores featuring orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett, but also featuring numbers by Don Walker and others.
David Merrick donated scores and parts to several shows in 1970, including “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Carnival,” “Destry Rides Again,” “Fanny,” “I Can Get It for You Wholesale,” “I Do! I Do!,” “Irma La Douce,” “Oliver!,” “110 in the Shade,” “Pickwick,” “La Plume de la Tante,” “The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd” and “Take Me Along.” Bob Merrill’s 1966 score for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” boasted no original cast recording, but after an interested record producer realized the original scores were at the Library, they were used to make the first recording of the show in 2001.
Because of changes in the copyright law in the mid-70s, several publishers determined that it would be wise to submit for copyright scores or parts for shows that they controlled or leased. As a result, the Music Division received dozens of scores and parts for several shows. These ranged from the original manuscript full scores for “Brigadoon,” “Camelot” and “My Fair Lady” to sets of rental parts for Sondheim shows “Anyone Can Whistle,” “Follies,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “A Little Night Music,” to name a few.
In 1982 a virtual treasure-trove of rare music manuscripts—including dozens of heretofore lost songs by major writers, and original orchestrations for dozens of musicals—was discovered in Secaucus, N.J. Now legendary, the event was a “fantasy come to life” for music collectors.
Among the discoverers was theater historian Robert Kimball. Some 70 to 80 crates of material were in a Warner Brothers warehouse.
Beginning in the 1920s, Warner Brothers began purchasing and acquiring several music publishers, including Harms, Witmark, and Remick. They subsequently began their own music publishing company—Warner-Chappell.
It took more than five years to resolve the various disputes and legal wranglings, but this material eventually came to the Library of Congress through several avenues. In the cases of certain composers’ estates, there was enough existing paperwork for their estates to exert ownership rights in the music manuscripts. As a result the Kern and Gershwin materials were given to the Library as separate gifts from those estates. Most of the rest came to the Library directly from Warner-Chappell, and it is now counted among the Music Division’s largest and richest collections.
The size and scope of the Warner-Chappell materials is vast. The Kern shows alone include all or most of the scores or parts for “The Cat and the Fiddle,” “Music in the Air,” “Roberta,” “Sally,” “Show Boat,” “Sitting Pretty,” “Sunny,” “Sweet Adeline,” “Very Good Eddie” and “Very Warm for May.”
Many notable acquisitions since the Warner-Chappell find have come to the Library of Congress as part of larger collections, such as the papers of Irving Berlin and Leonard Bernstein.
The Don Walker Collection, which came to the Library in 2001, was one of the first wide-ranging collections from a Broadway orchestrator. It includes a fraction of the original full scores for the shows he is best known for—”Damn Yankees,” “The Girl in Pink Tights,” “The Pajama Game” and “Zorba.” But it is rich in other musical materials, such as correspondence and business papers that informed much of Steven Suskin’s recent book (see story on page 114), as well as writings by Walker on the art of orchestrating.
In addition to scores for Broadway musicals, the Library is also rich in scores by orchestrators and arrangers for popular and jazz performances and recordings, often featuring songs from musicals. These include collections of the arrangers Billy Byers, Peter Matz and Billy May; arrangements for performers including the collections of Pearl Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, Danny Kaye, Bob Hope and Carmen McRae; and collections for bandleaders, conductors or musicians such as Charlie Barnet, Louis Bellson, Morton Gould, Joe Haymes, Andre Kostelanetz, Gerry Mulligan, Tommy Newsom and Florian ZaBach.
Finding and saving these scores—so much a part of our cultural heritage—remains a priority for the Music Division. To those who might possess or know the whereabouts of such scores, the Music Division of the Library of Congress can promise a safe and caring repository that will properly preserve these materials and make them available for research and scholarship.
Mark Eden Horowitz is a senior music specialist in the Library’s Music Division.