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Louis Hirsch wrote some of the loveliest music I ever heard on the Broadway stage. It really is a shame that it is almost completely forgotten today. Robert Russell Bennett (1978) From the mid-1910s until his tragic death in 1924, Louis A. Hirsch (b. 1881) was one of the best and most celebrated composers of the American musical theater. From 1911 until 1924, Hirsch's forty Broadway musical comedies and revues spotlighted him as Jerome Kern's only true rival, and made mega-stars of several young performers among them Al Jolson, Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, and Mae West. Hirsch's work is important because of its influence on American theater music: it combined, for the first time, the sounds of Hirsch's Jewish heritage filtered through his European classical training, fused with a fascination for ragtime, blues, and early "jass." To audiences of the 1910s, Hirsch's music was unique and sensational. Although he shared librettists (Guy Bolton) and lyricists (P.G. Wodehouse) with Jerome Kern, Hirsch's style while comparable to Kern's was far more extroverted. And historically, in almost every way Hirsch was the "prototype" for George Gershwin; indeed, Hirsch's untimely demise (at age 36) was the event that finally opened the doors of Broadway to the younger composer. This recording features seventeen never-before-recorded, original period orchestrations of overtures, selections, songs and dance numbers from Hirsch's shows, including his monster hits, "The Wedding Glide," "Mary," and "The Love Nest." Label: New World Records
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