No CrossRef data available.
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 June 2022
In 1920, Oscar Hammerstein II—fresh from the modest success of his debut musical Always You—was eager to write the show for Frank Tinney that his uncle Arthur was to produce. As Hugh Fordin wrote, “Arthur, confident of his nephew's ability but aware that he needed to learn more about his craft, brought in Otto Harbach to collaborate on the book and lyrics.” The two men joined forces on that show—Tickle Me—and went on to write such classics as Rose-Marie (1924, Rudolf Friml & Herbert Stothart), Sunny (1925, Jerome Kern), and The Desert Song (1926, Sigmund Romberg). After working with Harbach (Fig. 1), Hammerstein would venture on his own and write Show Boat, Oklahoma!, and be credited as having ushered in a new era of musical theatre, chiefly defined by his success at “integration.” As literary scholar Scott McMillin writes, the conventional idea of integration is that “all elements of a show—plot, character, song, dance, orchestration, and setting—should blend together into a unity, a seamless whole.” In popular commentary, this development is often attributed to Rodgers & Hammerstein's 1943 musical Oklahoma!, as seen in John Kenrick's claim that “[t]hroughout the show, every word, number, and dance step was an organic part of the storytelling process. Instead of interrupting the dialogue, each song and dance continued it. For the first time, everything flowed in an unbroken narrative line from overture to curtain call.” Other historians and critics are more tempered, touting the success of Oklahoma! while insisting that its integration must be seen as part of a broader historical arc. Andrew Lamb, for example, celebrates Oklahoma! by noting that it was the realization of “[w]hat Kern and Gershwin had experimented with as far back as the 1920s—a piece that was not just a collection of catchy numbers, but a fusion of drama, song, and dance.” In a 1962 article, Stanley Green notes that the creators of Oklahoma! “blended all the theatrical arts with such skill tha[t] many accepted it as a revolution in the theatre,” but he argues that their accomplishment was actually “more evolutionary than revolutionary. Rather than inaugurating any trend toward the well-integrated show, what it did achieve was a perfection in technique of a development that had been going on ever since the second decade of the century.” While Green cites the Princess Theatre musicals of Bolton, Wodehouse, and Kern as the earliest examples of integration, this lineage goes back further—further than Hammerstein, further than Gershwin, further than Kern. To understand the history of the idea of “integration” in musical theatre, we must go back to the artist whose 1910 musical Madame Sherry, hailed as the “musical comedy rage of a generation,” was celebrated by critics for the way its “entertaining elements” were “cleverly interwoven into a consistent whole,” for the innovative ways that “the songs, lyrics, and ensemble numbers . . . are directly related to the story of the comedy, and there is a plausible excuse for every musical interruption.” That artist—who not only developed an innovative approach to musical theatre but also articulated a coherent theory of it—was Otto Harbach.
1 Fordin, Hugh, Getting to Know Him: A Biography of Oscar Hammerstein II  (New York: Da Capo Press, 1995), 46Google Scholar.
2 McMillin, Scott, The Musical as Drama (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006), 1Google Scholar.
4 Lamb, Andrew, 150 Years of Popular Musical Theatre (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 258Google Scholar.
5 Green, Stanley, “New Trends in Musical Comedies, or Are They?” Variety 225.7 (10 January 1962): 233Google Scholar.
6 “At the Colonial,” Chicago Live Stock World, 18 June 1910, 2.
7 “Madame Sherry, Opulent in Song, Here Sunday,” Evansville Journal-News. 8 January 1911, 5.
8 Mackall, Lawton, “How a College Professor Made a Fortune on Broadway: The True Story of Otto Harbach's Astonishing Success as a Playwright,” Pictorial Review 27.11 (August 1926), 96Google Scholar; emphasis original.
9 “Otto Harbach: Creator of Rose Marie,” Town and Country Review (1935), 28–9, at 28.
10 Oscar Hammerstein II, Lyrics (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1949), 41–2.
12 With Friml, Harbach wrote nine musicals, including The Firefly (1912), High Jinks (1913), and Katinka (1915). He also collaborated with Harry Tierney (Kid Boots, 1923) and Vincent Youmans (No, No, Nanette, 1925) as well as an array of lesser-known composers, including Aladar Renyi (Suzi, 1914), Percy Wenrich (The Crinoline Girl, 1914), Louis Hirsch (Mary, 1920; The O'Brien Girl, 1921; Betty Lee, 1924), Tom Johnstone (Molly Darling, 1922), Augustus Barratt (Jack and Jill, 1923), and Con Conrad (Kitty's Kisses, 1926). Other shows written in collaboration with Hammerstein include Jimmie (1920, Herbert Stothart), Wildflower (1923, Stothart & Youmans), Rose-Marie (1924, Stothart & Friml), Sunny (1925, Jerome Kern), Song of the Flame (1925, Stothart & George Gershwin), The Wild Rose (1926, Friml), The Desert Song (1926, Sigmund Romberg), Golden Dawn (1927, Stothart & Emmerich Kalman), and Good Boy (1928, Stothart).
13 Hammerstein, Lyrics, 42.
14 Harbach is generally ignored in the scholarly literature, but Thomas S. Hischak's Boy Loses Girl: Broadway's Librettists (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2002) contains an excellent précis of Harbach's career (23–35).
15 “At the Colonial.”
16 Qtd. in “The Week in Chicago,” The Billboard 22.17 (23 April 1910): 7.
17 “Polka Dominates Madame Sherry,” New York Times, 31 August 1910, 9.
18 “At the Theatre,” Brooklyn Life, 10 September 1910, 18. The Philadelphia Inquirer similarly wrote that “here we have ample proof that an involved plot can be introduced with the music without confusion or concealment.” Clay M. Greene, “Timely Chat on Timely Topics,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 September 1910, 3.
19 Emory B. Calvert, “New York Theatrical Letter,” Colorado Springs Gazette, 11 September 1910, 23.
20 Music Book and Memories of “Madame Sherry” (New York: Witmark & Sons, 1910).
21 Heylbut, Rose, “It Shouldn't Be a Battle,” Etude 73.12 (1955), 11–12Google Scholar, 45, 47, at 12.
23 To be fair, some of his works did not rise to the same level of ambition and quality: as one review of his 1911 piece The Girl of My Dreams noted, “‘The Girl of My Dreams’ is at the Criterion. Wilbur D. Nesbit and Otto Hauerbach did the dreaming. It was a peaceful sleep. What little the authors remembered of the mind mirage, they called a ‘plot.’ Each ate at a different table the night before the dream came off. . . . The book of the Dream Girl reads like an old burlesque afterpiece, polished up.” Sime., “The Girl of My Dreams,” Variety 23.10 (12 August 1911), 18.
24 “Life of Otto Harbach,” April 1962, Otto Harbach Papers, New York Public Library (NYPL), *T-Mss 1993-038, Box 21, 137, 380. Indeed, despite his tremendous success in musical theatre, Harbach always expressed ambivalence about the genre, lamenting that he never produced a canonical straight play. Remarking that he “never loved the musicals,” Harbach said that he was “called into every musical that [he] got mixed up in,” securing what he felt was essentially lucrative though uninspiring work (ibid., 235).
25 Oral History Research Office, Columbia University, “Interview with Mr. Otto Harbach,” Otto Harbach Papers, NYPL, Box 20, Folder 3, 40.
26 “Life of Otto Harbach,” 379.
29 Columbia, “Interview with Mr. Otto Harbach,” 16–17.
31 “Important Interpolations,” The Billboard 20.38 (19 September 1908): 9.
32 “The American Stage,” The Stage, 12 March 1908, 23.
33 Heylbut, “It Shouldn't Be a Battle,” 47.
34 Columbia, “Interview with Mr. Otto Harbach,” 17.
35 “The Amusement Week in Chicago: Up and Down Broadway,” The Billboard 23.1 (31 December 1910): 8.
36 “The American Stage,” The Stage, 4 August 1910, 22.
37 “Mme. Sherry a Success,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 31 August 1910, 4.
38 Columbia, “Interview with Mr. Otto Harbach,” 2.
39 James H. McTeague, Before Stanislavsky: American Professional Acting Schools and Acting Theory, 1875–1925 (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1993), 95.
40 Otto A. Hauerbach, “The Hero of Compromise,” in Winning Orations of the Inter-State Oratorical Contests, with Biographies of Contestants, 1890–1907, vol. II, ed. Charles Edgar Prather and J. E. Groves (Topeka, KS: Crane & Co., 1907), 109–17.
41 A. J. Liebling, “Learned Lyricist,” New Yorker (20 February 1937), 22–7, at 22.
42 “That Night I Really Struck Twelve,” manuscript in the Otto Harbach Papers, NYPL, Box 20, 4.
44 Catalogue of Whitman College and Whitman Academy, 1895–’6 (Walla Walla, WA: Press of the Walla Walla Union, 1895), 18–19.
45 See Edyth Renshaw, “Three Schools of Speech: The Emerson College of Oratory; the School of Expression; and the Leland Powers School of the Spoken Word” (Ph.D. diss., Teachers College, Columbia University, 1950).
46 Mary Margaret Robb, Oral Interpretation of Literature in American Colleges and Universities: A Historical Study of Teaching Methods (New York: H. Wilson, 1941), 165.
47 Mary A. Blood and Ida Morey Riley, The Psychological Development of Expression: A Compilation of Selections for Use in the Study of Expression, vol. 1 (Chicago: Columbia School of Oratory, 1907), 8.
48 Southwick, Jessie Eldridge, Principles of Oratory: An Outline Philosophy of Emerson College Methods (Boston: Everett Press, 1912), 13Google Scholar.
50 Charles Wesley Emerson, Evolution of Expression, 27th ed., vol. 1  (Boston: Emerson College of Oratory, 1908), 17.
51 Renshaw, “Three Schools of Speech,” 40.
52 Emerson, Evolution of Expression, 17.
53 Southwick, Principles of Oratory, 10.
54 Ibid., 9. Similarly noting that “all mechanical modes of teaching oratory are utterly rejected,” Cecil Harper wrote in 1893 that “the method of instruction differs fundamentally from that usually employed in teaching oratory. . . . While other systems work for appearances of power, this system develops sources of real power; while other systems have dealt with effects, this system has also dealt with causes.” Cecil Harper, “The Emerson College of Oratory: Its History, Methods of Teaching and Courses of Instruction,” Emerson College Magazine 1.3 (February 1893): 108–13, at 108.
55 Columbia, “Interview with Mr. Otto Harbach,” 1.
56 See, for example, Andrea Most, Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004); David Savran, Highbrow/Lowdown: Theatre, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010); and Bradley Rogers, The Song Is You: Musical Theatre and the Politics of Bursting into Song and Dance (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2020).
57 Otto Harbach, Madame Sherry (n.p.: Theatre Arts Press, 2015), 8. Subsequent citations are given parenthetically in the text.
58 “John Drew and Mary Boland in New Maugham Offering,” Montgomery Advertiser, 11 September 1910, 27.
59 Music Book and Memories, n.p.
60 “Music, Comedy, Scientific Phenomena Will All Have Place on Jose Bill,” San Jose Evening News, 12 August 1910, 3.
61 The early history of the illustrated song is not well traced, but its contours are suggested by a few oft-cited facts. Tony Pastor, generally cited as the earliest song illustrator, is said to have used slides of military generals and battle scenes to illustrate his song “Heroes of the War” during the Civil War. Once the war was over, Pastor abandoned the act, and illustrated songs returned only in 1895, with Allen May, followed by such artists as Alonzo Hatch and Meyer Corey. See Marion, Harry S., “Illustrated Songs,” Moving Picture World 85.4 (26 March 1927): 331–2Google Scholar.
62 Harris, Chas. K., “Illustrating Song Slides,” Moving Picture World 1.1 (9 March 1907): 5–6Google Scholar, at 5.
63 Sanderson, H. S., “The History of Song Slides” (letter to the editor), Moving Picture World 4.22 (29 May 1909): 716–17Google Scholar.
64 JRipley, ohn W., “All Join in the Chorus,” American Heritage 10.4 (June 1959): 50–9Google Scholar, at 51.
65 Esther M. Morgan-Ellis, Everybody Sing!: Community Singing in the American Picture Palace (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018), 56. Significantly, a few particularly experimental illustrators began to use film instead of slides. Harry S. Marion recalled that George Diamond and Al Hoon were the first to illustrate a song with a film. They paired the song “The Man with the Ladder and the Hose” to a “film . . . made up of bits of fire scenes, nicely assembled.” See Marion, “Illustrated Songs,” 331. Epes W. Sargent, meanwhile, recalled that “[o]ne team, Falke and Lillian . . . used motion pictures instead of slides. . . . Several others were talking about using films for illustration, but film cost money.” See Epes W. Sargent, “The Illustrated Song of Yore,” Variety 129.4 (5 January 1938): 172. While the use of film was an exception, the continuity in these few cases between the two media affirms the importance of this genre for thinking through the relationship between song and (filmic) image.
66 Harris, “Illustrating Song Slides,” 6. It is worth noting that while this entertainment was most prevalent in the earliest days of cinema, even in 1912 Moving Picture World noted that “[t]he so-called illustrated song seems to be holding out more strongly and is still in vogue in many houses which are in other respects conducted with great care and efficiency.” “Facts and Comments,” Moving Picture World 14.3 (19 October 1912): 220. The other great narrative impulse came from the use of sound effects, which in the early days had been deployed somewhat willy-nilly, simply because the “effects man” enjoyed making idiosyncratic noises and raising a ruckus. A January 1913 article in Moving Picture World looks back on an earlier period of film exhibition and notes that “generally, noisy, crude, and misplaced” sound effects “contributed largely to the awakening of managers and others to the importance of appropriate music for accompanying the picture.” Clarence E. Sinn, “Music for the Picture,” Moving Picture World 15.4 (25 January 1913): 352.
67 “Revival of Illustrated Song Slides,” The Billboard 30.49 (7 December 1918): 14.
68 See, among Rick Altman's many excellent studies in this regard, “The Silence of the Silents,” Musical Quarterly 80.4 (1996): 648–718. See also Martin Miller Marks, Music and the Silent Film: Contexts and Case Studies, 1895–1924 (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).
69 Welford Beaton, Know Your Movies: The Theory and Practice of Motion Picture Production (Hollywood: Howard Hill, 1932), 82.
70 Bedding, Thomas, “The Modern Way in Moving Picture Making,” Moving Picture World 4.11 (13 March 1909): 294–5Google Scholar, at 295.
71 Qtd. in Elaine Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema: 1907–1915 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 57.
72 George Tootell, How to Play the Cinema Organ  (London: Paxton, 1927), 81.
73 See Tim Anderson's well-researched “Reforming ‘Jackass Music’: The Problematic Aesthetics of Early American Film Music Accompaniment,” Cinema Journal 37.1 (Fall 1997): 3–22, for an excellent discussion of the fear of disjunctive music as the nickelodeon cinema moved from an audience-focused to a narrative-focused genre motivated by cultural uplift.
74 Hansford, Montiville Morris, “Preparing Music for Photoplay Accompaniments,” Dramatic Mirror 77.2017 (25 August 1917): 11Google Scholar.
75 Eugene A. Ahern, “Selections from What and How to Play for Pictures” , in Celluloid Symphony: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History, ed. Julie Hubbert (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), 45–52, at 49–50.
76 Ibid., 52. A 1924 article in The Musician magazine similarly complained that “[j]ust as it is disconcerting for a singer to intone words of adoration with a facial expression indicative of pain, so it is a disturbance of audience morale to witness some festive scene on the silent screen, and hear the sepulchral wheeze of a maudlin improvisation on some sorrowful theme with the melody distorted through lack of rhythmic proportion of any kind, or the halting cadences of a solemn ‘voluntary’ which hesitates ever so often as if one had to arrange an armistice in order to turn over the page.” De Profundis (pseud.), “Choir and Organ: In Which We Forsake the Choir Loft Temporarily to Investigate the Duties of the Moving Picture Organist—A Continuation of Last Month's Suggestions to Those Who Would Profit by Playing for the Silent Drama,” The Musician 29 (December 1924): 41.
77 Fox, Joseph, “Interpretive Music for the Movies,” Melody 6.1 (January 1922): 24–5Google Scholar, at 24. Fox notes that “[m]anagers have come to realize that the day of the lone pianist sitting in the dark, tearing out jazz or attempting ‘Hearts and Flowers’ by ear, as the case may be, on an instrument all out of tune, is over” (24).
78 In a 1911 screed in Moving Picture World, Louis Reeves Harrison complained about just such an accompanist, whom he named “Lily Limpwrist.” Harrison complained about theatrical managers who “allow their musicians to play the wrong accompaniment to the right composition. . . . O, what a noise when the lights are turned low and Lily Limpwrist takes her place at the usual instrument of torture.” Bemoaning Lily's inappropriate repertoire, Harrison wrote that “no man will ever marry a girl who plays a dance while the pictured man is in a death struggle; she would probably be at one when the real one was in trouble. The girl of sympathy will play music in accord with the pictured story.” Harrison argued that such “klepto-pianoacs” ruin the audience's pleasure, and he closes with a depiction of a scene in a film in which “a tender-hearted mother” is dying, “the world around her is subdued and silent, her face is pale, her frame attenuated, her respiration is heavy. . . . Tears are falling like her life illusions, she is overcome with her double burden of pain and sorrow, her eyes, inflamed by the fever of unattained hopes, turn beseechingly to the infinite power above, a last faint sigh, the eyes close forever,” whereupon Lily ruins the moment with her “Bangity-bang-bang! Bing-bang-bang!” See Harrison, Louis Reeves, “Jackass Music,” Moving Picture World 8.3 (21 January 1911): 124–5Google Scholar.
79 Nesbit, Wilbur D., “Lizzie Plays for the Picture,” Moving Picture World 9.8 (2 September 1911): 618Google Scholar.
80 Sinn, Clarence E., “Music for the Picture,” Moving Picture World 9.5 (12 August 1911): 370Google Scholar. To be fair, though, some early managers might on occasion have demanded certain popular songs: as Eugene Ahern noted, “there are some exhibitors who want the popular hits played incessantly, regardless of the picture on the screen.” Ahern, “Selections from What and How to Play for Pictures,” 48. Many such exhibitors preferred pianists to play popular songs in the interest of bringing in audiences who in some cases even liked to sing along with the accompaniment. One pianist wrote that he had “lost my job on a try-out in a New York theater because the manager said, ‘You play well, but we want popular stuff so they can sing. Go back and try again.’ I doped out ‘Pony Boy’ and ‘My Wife's Gone to the Country, Hurrah!’ and all the current songs and made good, but I couldn't stand ‘My Wife's Gone to the Country, Hurrah!’ shouted from a few hundred throats while I wanted to rescue the heroine from the burning ship with dramatic stuff.” Sinn, Clarence E., “Music for the Picture,” Moving Picture World 10.1 (7 October 1911): 29Google Scholar.
81 See, for example, Fox, “Interpretive Music for the Movies,” 24: “Playing to the picture is an art in itself, one that calls not only for creative ability, but, in order to be successful, the leader of a picture orchestra must have a wonderful sense of fitness combined with an extensive library and a good memory.”
82 Carl, William C., “The Organist and the ‘Movies,’” Musical America 24.24 (14 October 1916): 43Google Scholar.
83 Sinn, “Music for the Picture” (7 October 1911): 29.
84 McQuade, James S., “The Belasco of Motion Picture Presentations,” Moving Picture World 10.10 (9 December 1911): 796–8Google Scholar, at 797. McQuade observed Rothapfel firsthand, writing that he “sat on the stage, with a stenographer beside him, facing the screen. At a signal the operator began projecting the first picture. As it was being run off and watched by all, Mr. Rothapfel announced the score, and details for sound effects. He mentally seizes on the musical selections, on the spur of the moment, as if inspired. If an afterthought flashes the intelligence that a better selection than the one announced would be more appropriate, he signals the operator to stop and run several scenes over again. If convinced that the change should be made, he so announces, and the members of the orchestra make notes accordingly. It is strange that Mr. Rothapfel should state that he does not know a note of music, except by ear, yet he has the scores of every light opera and musical comedy at his command, and can draw on grand opera and on the symphonies to assist him in playing the pictures. In addition, he is familiar with the popular lyrics of many countries” (797).
85 Fox, “Interpretive Music for the Movies,” 24.
86 Another critic similarly reported a “bare and cold” effect when he watched a film without music, noting that he “was no more than a spectator, moved to interest and admiration, but not to sympathetic emotion.” Fletcher, Stuart, “Two Arts That Meet as One,” The Sackbut 9 (June 1929), 374–5Google Scholar, at 374.
87 One early Edison cue sheet, for example, indicates the seven scenes of ’Tis Now the Very Witching Time of Night, with “pizzicato crescendo and decrescendo” as the suggestion for Scene 4, while the following scene is marked “Andante to donkey scene, mock march to skeletons then hurry.” “Incidental Music for Edison Pictures” , in Celluloid Symphony, ed. Hubbert, 39–41, at 40. As Fox noted, “producers, knowing that the picture with the proper musical setting stands a greater chance of getting over, in some cases provide what is known as a cue-sheet with a production. This is a list of numbers, all timed to the minute, which have been chosen because of their peculiar fitness to the subject being shown. Some few even go further and provide the whole musical score from beginning to end. However, as this is very costly, and as all theatres have not the necessary orchestras to properly play such scores, this practice is not much in vogue as yet. But it is quite safe to predict that the day is not far distant when some similar method will be universal.” Fox, “Interpretive Music for the Movies,” 24.
88 In his 1921 Musical Presentation of Motion Pictures, Beynon remarked that “we must have a standard style to our musical settings. Classic or non-classic music must prevail for the entire picture under ordinary conditions. It is unwise to mix into a musical setting, comprising excerpts from grand opera or symphonies, the popular ‘Shoo-fly’ one-steps of the day.” George Beynon, “Selections from Musical Presentation of Motion Pictures” , in Celluloid Symphony, ed. Hubbert, 74–83, at 81. At other times, writers urged pianists to take advantage of the internal coherence offered by a musical composition that contained multiple movements. Thus, Eugene Ahern counseled pianists to use “appropriate music,” defined as “not only music that is in keeping with the atmosphere of the picture, but music that has two or more different movements, so you won't need to make an entire change of music to fit the scenes, but just play some other movement in the same piece.” Ahern, “Selections from What and How to Play for Pictures,” 45.
89 Qtd. in W. Stephen Bush, “The Art of Exhibition” , in Celluloid Symphony, ed. Hubbert, 56–61, at 57.
90 De Profundis, “Choir and Organ,” 41.
91 Tootell, How to Play the Cinema Organ, 81.
92 Columbia, “Interview with Mr. Otto Harbach,” 32–3.
96 “Life of Otto Harbach,” 8–9.
97 Heylbut, “It Shouldn't Be a Battle,” 45.
98 “Otto Harbach: Creator of Rose Marie,” 28.
99 Manuscript of The Cat and the Fiddle, Otto Harbach Papers, NYPL, Box 9, Folder 6, I.40.
101 Columbia, “Interview with Mr. Otto Harbach,” 11.
102 Peter Marks, “If It's a Musical, It Was Probably a Movie,” New York Times, 14 April 2002, §2, 1.
103 Ibid. Musicologist Raymond Knapp has noted the “odd schism that has developed between those who study stage musicals and those who study film musicals, which amounts to an engrained habit of not paying much attention to the other, and which means that neither the obvious similarities between the two, nor their important differences, get much scrutiny.” Knapp, “Getting Off the Trolley: Musicals contra Cinematic Reality,” in From Stage to Screen: Musical Films in Europe and United States (1927–1961), ed. Massimiliano Sala (Turnhout: Brepols, 2012), 157–72, at 161.
104 Oscar Hammerstein II, “Musical Keystone: An Expert Writes about the Importance of the Book in Stage Productions,” New York Times, 2 August 1953, §2, 1, 4, at 4.
No CrossRef data available.