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Alan Eliasen <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 10 Mar 2004 22:23:59 -0700
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Johnston, Marjorie wrote:
> The Chicago Symphony Singers are programming some American sets, and we
> would be interested in any Mark Twain texts that have been set to music
> (choral, solo, or small vocal ensemble).  Thanks for any help you can
> give.

   I looked up the one song I knew with Twain lyrics from Sarah Brightman's CD
"The Songs That Got Away."  This is a very nice collection of songs from
musicals that failed for one reason or another.  It contains "What Makes Me
Love Him?" which turns out to be from the previously-mentioned "The Apple
Tree."  Here's the synopsis of "The Apple Tree" from the liner notes:

   WHAT MAKES ME LOVE HIM?  It was with _The Apple Tree_ that, in 1966, Jerry
Bock and Sheldon Harnick followed their record-breaking success with _Fiddler
on the Roof_, and the result was something of an anti-climax, running
respectably on Broadway but never making it over the Atlantic or achieving
many revivals.  Director Mike Nichols' first musical, it was an ambitious
attempt to link three one-act plays by Mark Twain, Jules Feiffer and Frank
Stockton into some kind of coherent whole.  _What Makes Me Love Him?_ comes
from the Mark Twain diary of Adam & Eve, and was sung orignially on Broadway
by Barbara Harris who won a Tony for her efforts.  The other stars were Larry
Blyden and Alan Alda later of MASH [sic].  Before Nichols, the show was to
have been directed by either Gower Champion or Jerome Robbins who told Harnick
that whatever happened it had to be kept homogeneous and "adding up to
something."  As Harnick later noted, it didn't: "we came out with less than
the sum of our parts, and that hurts."

   In any case, Ms. Brightman's sweet, simple rendition of the solo tune is
quite charming, and the tune is elegant and well suited to the words, which
bear a very recognizable Twain humor, for example:

   "What makes me love him?
    It's not his singing
    I've heard his singing,
    Its sours the milk
    And yet, it's gotten to the point
    Where I prefer that kind of milk."

   The album itself is well worthwhile, containing good "lost" songs from
failed musicals by such names as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Schwartz,
Stephen Sondheim, Irving Berlin, Alan Jay Lerner, Noel Coward, Andrew Lloyd
Webber, even Puccini.  The liner notes are as interesting as the music.

  Alan Eliasen                 | "You cannot reason a person out of a
  [log in to unmask]       |  position he did not reason himself |  into in the first place."
                               |     --Jonathan Swift