The Ziegfeld Follies: A History in Song

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The Ziegfeld Follies: A History in Song presents an account of the Follies through the musical productions contained in the show. Accessing primary sources such as magazines and extant programs, Ann Ommen van der Merwe has carefully researched the Follies, reconstructing the songs, dances, and content of each annual production from 1907 to 1931, providing detailed descriptions of song performances. In so doing, the book demonstrates the important role of song in facilitating the comedy and spectacle for which the Follies are better known. Ommen van der Merwe takes a broad, chronological approach to the material, addressing such issues as musical style, lyrics, and staging of individual songs. In the process, she identifies the historical trajectory of the Ziegfeld Follies, delineating periods within its history like the development of the production values Ziegfeld was famous for, the success of his spectacles, his adaptation to changing times, and his legacy. She also considers the cultural and performance history of the Follies and its reflection of the society in which it developed. An appendix lists the composer, lyricist, publisher, and performer of each Follies song, as well as a library collection or archive where a copy may be found. The book also includes a collection of photographs, a select discography, bibliography, and two indexes, by song title and general subject.

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Editorial Reviews

In The Groove
This is an easy-to-read book and will be of great interest to the theatre and 'personality record' collector.
— Steve Ramm
American Music
Details such as song titles and costars are found in Ann Ommen van der Merwe’s thoroughly researched history of the Ziegfeld Follies....Van der Merwe’s work is inarguably an important addition to the literature. The book’s organization, the author’s excellent use of reviews and other contemporaneous documents, the historical and cultural contextualizations of each Follies, and above all the author’s concern with the Follies’ developing images of American women all make for an invaluable resource for scholars of the American musical, and the straightforward if sometimes repetitive approach also invites use and enjoyment by general readers. This book, van der Merwe’s first, announces the arrival of an important new scholar writing about an era of American musical theater that fortunately is being reclaimed after decades of neglect. Readers can feel confident that the Follies and the age that produced them are in good hands.
Dominic Symonds
This fascinating book offers an extensive account of the Ziegfeld Follies, from its first show in 1907 to its final fling almost a quarter of a century later. Ommen's writing is engaging and interesting, and her sharp awareness of the various influences on the Follies shows her knowledge and passion about this captivating series of shows to be unparalleled. This is a unique study of an important contribution to American culture and will provide insightful reading for fans and scholars alike.
John Graziano
A wonderful and invaluable source book for everyone interested in the Ziegfeld Follies. Ommen van der Merwe’s comprehensive discussion of the songs performed and the scenic extravaganzas in which they were performed are supplemented by a detailed discography of original recordings and current reissues, and a very useful list of the songs performed in each of the shows.
The Portage County Gazette, May 4, 2009 - Geary Larrick
There is a new book published in 2009 that will be of interest to people of all ages. Its title is, 'The Ziegfeld Follies,' A History in Song.... Very interesting.... Especially appropriate for libraries both public and school, as well as individual readers.... Written by a lover of music who writes about the music in great detail well organized.... Faithfully recommend this book to the reader without reservation.
In The Groove - Steve Ramm
This is an easy-to-read book and will be of great interest to the theatre and 'personality record' collector.
September 2009 CHOICE
A serviceable survey of all the Broadway productions of the Follies....Her good song index, select discography, and bibliography add to the book's value.
William Everrett
This detailed description of every Ziegfeld Follies production from 1907 to 1931 provides valuable insight into the genre of the revue and its significance. The song listing and discography will surely delight every Follies' fan.
Fall 2009 Studies In Musical Theatre
The book's accessibility makes it appealing to several audiences. Among these are fans of the Follies and theatre scholars. As each Follies production aimed at representing—or, frequently, satirizing—its historical milieiu, a study of the numbers in those productions offers excellent insights into the culture that produced them.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810867161
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/26/2009
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Ommen van der Merwe is Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Miami University in Oxford, OH. She appeared on stage in the 2000 national tour of Cole Porter's Anything Goes and her research has been published in Studies in Musical Theatre and Music Theory Spectrum.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    Songs story - part one.

    I was born in a tribe. My name was Song the Bird Sings (song). One day, when i was young, the camp was attacked by mountain lions. The warriors, apprentices, and even the elders and some queens fought them, but to no avail. I took my brothers and sisters and we left the camp by orders of the leader. It was me, Fern, Snow, Jagger, Storm, and Crow. We ran until we reached an old rabbit den.

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