How Operas are Created by Composers and Librettists: The Life of Jack Beeson, American Composer

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In this work Jack Beeson, the composer of ten operas, recounts his search for subjects and the writing of five of their librettos, his collaboration with the librettists of the other five (William Saroyan, Richard Plant, Kenward Elmslie, and Sheldon Harnick), and the varied and tangled events leading to their premieres in theatres and on television here and abroad. This book contains eighteen black and white photographs.


"This formidable tome owes its life to the fact that Jack Beeson is blessed with equal mastery of words and music." - Julius Rudel

". . .vivid and witty, and at times, truly poignant . . . what made me most unwilling to close the book was and leave it was the recreation of a whole period in American music and teh leading actors in the "music drama" of New York musical world in the last half of the twentieth century." - John Kander

"Rich in stories about the creative process . . ." - New Music Connoisseur

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Growing Up Untypical in Middletown (1921-1939)
Chapter 2 At the Eastman School of Music During World War II (1939-1944)
Chapter 3 To New York City, Béla Bartók, and Opera at Columbia (1944-1945)
Chapter 4 Britten’s Grimes and Virgil Thomson’s Mother and Aeneid
Chapter 5 Living Miscellaneously (1945-1948)
Chapter 6 Jonah (1947–1952). Rome and the Ticino (1948-1950)
Chapter 7 New Yorkers and Ticinesi (1950-1952)
Chaper 8 Hello Out There. The Sweet Bye and Bye.
Librettoless in Europe (1953-1959)
Chapter 9 Good Deeds and the Ditson Fund (1960-). Lizzie Borden (1954-1965)
Chapter 10 My Heart’s in the Highlands (1966-1970). Riots and the Bust on Campus (1968)
Chapter 11 Tempers and Tantrums in the Department. Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines (1968-1975)
Chapter 12 Two Jinxed Subjects. Awards and Passings. Dr. Heidegger’s Fountain of Youth (1976-1978)
Chapter 13 Miscellanea and Cyrano (1978-1990)
Chapter 14 More Miscellanea. Sorry, Wrong Number. Practice in the Art of Elocution (1990-1999)
Chapter 15 Coda (1999-)
Appendix A – Repertory of the Columbia Opera Workshop
Appendix B – Musical Works by Jack Beeson

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