Block, Geoffrey 1948-
BLOCK, Geoffrey 1948-
Born May 7, 1948, in Oakland, CA; son of Stanley (a lawyer) and Ruth Ann (Schnipper) Block; married Jacqueline Lee Kulwin (a pianist and a piano teacher), June 27, 1982; children: Jessamyn Halil, Eliza Danielle. Ethnicity: "White." Education: University of California—Los Angeles, B.A. (music history; magna cum laude), 1970; Harvard University, M.A. (historical musicology), 1973, Ph.D. (historical musicology), 1979. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Composing musicals.
Thacher School, Ojai, CA, director of music, 1977-80; University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA, began as assistant professor, became professor of music, 1980—. Tacoma Opera, honorary member of board of directors, 1983—; panelist and referee, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1993—; advisory board, Northwest Sinfonietta, 2001—.
American Musicological Society, Society of American Music.
Fulbright fellow in Germany, 1975-76; grant from National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990-91.
Charles Ives: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1988.
(Compiler and editor) The Richard Rodgers Reader, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Also contributor to numerous journals, including Musical Quarterly, American Music, Journal of Musicology, Opera Quarterly, BBC Music Magazine, Mozart-Jahrbuch, and Beethoven Newsletter. Contributor of articles to Beethoven Essays: Studies in Honor of Elliot Forbes, edited by Lewis Lockwood and Phyllis Benjamin, 1984; Essays on Beethoven's Compositional Process, edited by William Kinderman, 1988; and Cambridge Companion to the Music, edited by William A. Everett and Paul R. Laird, 2002. Yale Broadway Masters, general editor and advisory board chair, 1998—.
Geoffrey Block, a professor of music at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Washington, has written on subjects that include Beethoven's compositional process, composer Charles Ives, Broadway musicals, and Broadway and Hollywood composer Richard Rodgers.
In Enchanted Evenings: The Broadway Musical from "Show Boat" to Sondheim, published in 1997, Block scrutinizes fourteen musicals, beginning with Show Boat, first staged in 1927, and working his way up to West Side Story, staged in 1957. To Sondheim, he devotes an entire chapter. Wrote Gerald Kaufman for the Sunday Times, "I love the way [Block] dissects each show musicologically. I got out my… album of West Side Story to track down his exposure of Leonard Bernstein's borrowings from Beethoven… and Tchaikovsky… and it really is neat that Block can prove West Side Story's Officer Krupke to be the counterpart of Prince Escalus in… Romeo and Juliet. " Kaufman also remarked, "Learned as the good professor undoubtedly is, he knows that what we buffs look for in books of this sort is gossip, and, happily, he provides plenty." Block offers some inside scoop about My Fair Lady, Carousel, Oklahoma, and Guys and Dolls, among other musicals, in his book.
To capture the different aspects of Richard Rodgers in The Richard Rodgers Reader, Block collected a variety of writings about the composer, including academic articles by music scholars such as Allen Forte, Philip Furia, Joshua Logan, Brooks Atkinson, and George Jean Nathan; 1920s-era correspondence from Rodgers to his wife, Dorothy; opinions by theater critics such as Eric Bentley who were reviewing Rodgers' original Broadway shows; anecdotes from cast members such as Mary Martin and Diahann Carroll; and Rodgers' own comments. The book is organized into four sections: "Rodgers and Hart (1929-1943)," "Rodgers and Hammerstein (1943-1960)," "Rodgers After Hammerstein (1960-1979)," and "The Composer Speaks (1939-1971)." A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted Block's choices of "strong, entertaining pieces by informed music writers," though the reviewer also remarked upon his inclusion of "more banal contributions." The reviewer concluded that the book was "good for serious performing arts readers."
In Yale Broadway Masters: Richard Rodgers, Block examines Rodgers's entire career, providing rich details about the creation, staging, and critical reception of some of his most popular musicals. Block traces Rodgers's musical education, early work, and the development of his musical and dramatic language. He focuses on two shows by Rodgers and Hart (A Connecticut Yankee and The Boys from Syracuse,) and two by Rodgers and Hammerstein (South Pacific and Cinderella). He concludes with the first serious look at the five neglected and often maligned musicals that Rodgers composed in the 1960s and 1970s, after the death of Hammerstein.
Throughout his books on the American musical, Block tries to explore, rigorously but accessibly, how musicals work. As the author told CA, he is interested in learning "what makes a musical successful and long-lasting? Why do musicals fail? How do the various components of a musical, in particular words, music, and story, combine to create something moving and entertaining to generations of performers and audiences as well as critics and historians?" Block hopes that his work will help lead readers to greater awareness, understanding, and appreciation of this genre.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Burkholder, J. Peter, editor, Ives and His World, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1996.
American Reference Books Annual, 1989, review of Charles Ives: A Bio-Bibliography, p. 477.
American Theatre, January, 1998, review of Enchanted Evenings: The Broadway Musical from "Show Boat" to Sondheim, p. 62.
Choice, March, 1989, review of Charles Ives: A Bio-Bibliography, p. 1172; December, 1995, review of Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition, p. 469; September, 1998, R. D. Johnson, review of Enchanted Evenings, p. 140.
Economist, May 23, 1998, review of Enchanted Evenings, p. 122.
Ex-Cetera (a supplement to Jewish Exponent), April 16, 1998, Robert Leiter, p. 1.
Kurt Weill Newsletter, Vol. 16, no. 1, Foster Hirsch, review of Enchanted Evenings, p. 15.
Library Journal, August, 1996, review of Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition, p. 74.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 16, 1997, review of Enchanted Evenings, pp. 3-4.
Music and Letters, November, 1997, David Nicholls, review of Ives "Concert Sonata," pp. 616-617.
New York Times, July 16, 2002, Mel Gussow, "Whoever the Lyricist, Songs So Hard to Forget," p. E7.
New York Times Book Review, November 23, 1997, review of Enchanted Evenings, p. 29.
Notes (Music Library Association), March, 1998, review of Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition, pp. 677-678.
Observer Review, April 19, 1998, Simon Callow, review of Enchanted Evenings, p. 17.
Publishers Weekly, May 13, 2002, review of The Richard Rodgers Reader, p. 63.
Reference & Research Book News, December, 1988, review of Charles Ives: A Bio-Bibliography, p. 19.
Spectator, April 18, 1998, review of Enchanted Evenings, pp. 35-36.
Sunday Times (London, England), April 26, 1998, Gerald Kaufman, "Let the Music Play; Musicals," p. 3.
Times Literary Supplement, October 18, 1996, review of Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition, pp. 18-19; August 28, 1998, Michael Silk, review of Enchanted Evenings, pp. 18-19.
Washington Post Book World, November 16, 1997, review of Enchanted Evenings, p. 11.
University of Puget Sound,http://www.ups.edu/ (September 9, 2003), bio of Block.