Cover image for The Broadway sound : the autobiography and selected essays of Robert Russell Bennett
The Broadway sound : the autobiography and selected essays of Robert Russell Bennett
Bennett, Robert Russell, 1894-1981.
Publication Information:
Rochester, NY : University of Rochester Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvii, 356 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.B4498 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The remarkable career of composer-orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett (1894-1981) encompassed a wide variety of both "legitimate" and popular music-making in Hollywood, on Broadway, and for television. Bennett is principally responsible for what is known worldwide as the "Broadway sound" and for greatly elevating the status of the theater orchestrator. He worked alongside Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, and Frederick Loewe on much of the Broadway canon, eventually providing orchestrations for all or part of more than 300 musicals between 1920 and 1975. This work is the first publication of Bennett's autobiography, which was written in the late 1970s. It also includes eight of his most important essays on the art of orchestration. George J. Ferencz is Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Robert Russell Bennett (1894-1981) orchestrated all or part of more than 300 Broadway musicals between 1920 and 1975, but this impressive statistic only hints at his importance. Collaborating with the likes of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Frederick Loewe, and Richard Rodgers, he often worked from single melody lines and sketchy harmonies, and although his name is not well known, he produced much of what defined the style of American musical theater. His output was enormous; after hearing a song once, he could produce an arrangement. His career brought him wealth and prominence, but what he really wanted was to be taken seriously as a composer (he produced 175 original works). His writing has an old-fashioned charm and elegance, revealing both the genius and the gentleman. Included are eight essays on aspects of orchestral arranging, published between 1933 and 1967. Carefully edited and annotated, with a complete discography and lists of compositions, arrangements, and stage and film credits, this book succeeds both as biography and musical theater history. Highly recommended for academic libraries and large music collections.ÄKate McCaffrey, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Bennett (1894-1981) bridged the realms of classical and popular music. Although his devotion remained with the former, his lasting fame rests with the latter. He was the premier orchestrator of Broadway musicals from the 1930s through the 1950s, the "Golden Age" of Kern, Rodgers, Porter, Loewe, et al. Ferencz (Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater) authored a biobibliography of Bennett (Robert Russell Bennett, CH, Jun'91) and thus brings the requisite background to the manuscript Bennett left at his death. Unfortunately, the manuscript is leaden, filled with trite anecdotes. Bennett seems to have led a life devoid of problems, encountering no one he did not like. The editor uses bracketed paragraphs for necessary connective text and furnishes excellent supporting footnotes. Bennett gives few details on his work as an orchestrator or anecdotes about the shows on which he worked. As a partial remedy, Ferencz adds eight journal articles by Bennett that include some musical details. The volume features a list of compositions, stage and film credits, discography, and numerous photographs. A real labor of love by Ferencz, this work merits a place in all large music and performing arts collections and in major academic libraries. R. D. Johnson; emeritus, SUNY College at Oneonta