David Braham: The American Offenbach

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First Published in 2003. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A prolific composer of theater music in the late 19th century, David Braham (1838-1905) worked primarily with his son-in-law, Edward Harrigan (of "Harrigan and Hart" fame). Together, they were largely responsible for the emergence of what we now know as musical theater out of what was formerly a collection of sketches with music surrounding the odd trapeze or dialect comic act. Though it fills a gap in the history of early New York-based theater life, this book is ultimately unsatisfying. Franceschina (theatre arts, Pennsylvania State Univ.) makes no attempt to explain the significance of Braham's work in the larger world of the theater (or even to account for the subtitle). His early work was presented at the same time that draft riots were raging in New York, yet the Civil War is absent from these pages. Only by inference can the reader discover what kind of entertainment was popular at this time: lots of comedy based on racial stereotypes and more cross-dressing than you can shake a Charles Ludlum script at. The writing is stilted; nearly every paragraph is nicely self-contained, but transitions are not smooth. Sections of musical analyses appear out of nowhere. A lot of scholarship seems to have gone into this work, but the absence of notes or bibliography limits its usefulness to students. Recommended for only the largest libraries.-Larry Schwartz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

John Franceschina is a noted authority on 19th-century theater. He has edited a number of anthologies for Garland, including Women and the Profession of Theater, 1810-1860 and Sisters of Gore: Seven Gothic Melodramas by British Women, 1790-1843.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Series Introduction: "Sic transit gloria spectaculi": Some Famous but Forgotten Figures of the Musical Theatre xi
Chapter 1 Overture: "My Brother's Violin" 1
Chapter 2 Act One: "Leader of the Orchestra" 13
Chapter 3 Olio: "W. H. Lingard" 31
Chapter 4 Act Two: "Variety Virtuosos" 45
Chapter 5 Act Three: "Josh Hart and the Theatre Comique" 61
Chapter 6 Intermezzo: "Olios at the Eagle" 91
Chapter 7 Act Four: "Harrigan, Hart, and Braham" 103
Chapter 8 Entr'Acte: "The New Comique" 139
Chapter 9 Act Five: "Triumphs at the Park" 169
Chapter 10 Act Six: "Harrigan's Theatre" 193
Chapter 11 Grand Finale: "I Have Had My Share of It" 215
Appendix A Songs by David Braham 233
Appendix B Songs by the Braham Family 241
Appendix C The Repertoire during Braham's Employment at the Grand Opera House 245
Appendix D The Repertoire during Braham's Employment at Wallack's Theatre 251
Index 254
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2003

    Very Comprehensive

    (In response to the previous review) I now question the wisdom of important publications like Library Journal if they are going to misquote and get their facts wrong. First off, the subtitle "The American Offenbach¿ is explained on the first page of the first chapter: ¿The Spirit of the Times (August 19, 1882) had dubbed him `the American Offenbach,¿ claiming he could make all of New York City `keep time¿ to his music.¿ Second, to quote from the series introduction by Kurt Ganzl on page xii: ¿These books are not intended to be university theses. You will not find them dotted with a dozen footnotes per page, and hung with vast appendices of sources.¿ While Library Journal seems to have based its review solely on the first 30 pages of Franceschina¿s book, I seriously doubt the wisdom of how well even those pages were read. For instance, they quote Braham being born in 1838. He was born in 1834. That said, as someone who has read the book and even knows Braham¿s great-granddaughter Ann Connolly (to whom this book was dedicated), Franceschina¿s book on David Braham is a delightful read, written for the reader, not the scholar, filled with beautiful illustrations, sage musical examples and a wealth of theatre history that will not be found elsewhere. For those wishing a history book on the Civil War, you¿ll have to look elsewhere. Braham¿s life was lived for music. He was not affected by the politics of the day, as the author rightly states. This book is fully recommended to anyone who is interested in the true origins of musical theatre. Braham was more important than most people realize, and this book illustrates that rather well.

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