PERSONAL: Married Anne Edwards (a writer).
CAREER: Composer, lyricist, and writer.
(With wife, Anne Edwards) The Inn and Us, Random House (New York, NY), 1976.
Songwriting: A Complete Guide to the Craft, Morrow (New York, NY), 1985.
The Musical from the Inside Out, I. R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1992.
Contributor of preface, discography, and bibliography to The Paderewski Memoirs, by Ignace Jan Paderewski and Mary Lawton, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1980.
"GREAT SONGWRITERS" SERIES
Noel and Cole: The Sophisticates, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1993.
Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber: The New Musical, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Composer and lyricist Stephen Citron is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books about the theater, including Noel and Cole: The Sophisticates and Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber: The New Musical. Citron's 1985 title Songwriting: A Complete Guide to the Craft deemed "one of the most important manuals on that elusive art" by Martin Schaeffer in Back Stage, is a highly regarded reference work. In 1992 Citron published The Musical from the Inside Out, which takes readers "through the making of a musical from premise to production," according to a critic in American Theatre. In the work, Citron examines such issues as copyrighting, auditioning, writing, producing, and rehearsing. Reviewing The Musical from the Inside Out, Schaeffer commented that the author's "writing is clear, crisp, and utterly informative." He concluded that Citron took "a complex and often elusive subject and made it not only easily comprehensible but a fun read, as well."
In Noel and Cole, part of the "Great Songwriters" series, Citron examines the lives and careers of two distinguished twentieth-century composers, Noel Coward and Cole Porter. Washington Post Book World contributor Jonathan Yardley noted, "They were, as Citron has it in his subtitle, 'The Sophisticates,' men who in ways both alike and dissimilar became the spokesmen for and embodiments of cosmopolitan style in the years between the wars." Yardley added that "beyond the occasionally brittle wit of their words and music lay a powerful sense of the heart's yearnings, one that produced some of the loveliest sentimental music of the age." By arranging the stories of Coward and Porter in parallel, Citron "allows us to compare the ebb and flow of their careers and to observe their many similarities and their intersecting social circles," wrote American Theatre reviewer David Olivenbaum. Despite their contrasting backgrounds—Coward came from a working-class family in England, Porter from a wealthy family in America's heartland—the pair had many experiences in common. Both were raised by ineffectual fathers and strong-willed mothers, both were homosexual, and both enjoyed celebrity. Citron also "demonstrates that they shared a similar witty and intellectual approach to their work," observed a critic in Publishers Weekly. Andrew Lamb, writing in Notes, similarly remarked, "As a composer and lyricist himself, Citron is well qualified to analyze both aspects of the creators' art, which he does with the aid of both music examples and quotations from the lyrics. His comments are sound and sensible, if rarely particularly enlightening." Yardley offered qualified praise for Noel and Cole, stating, "Citron is well-informed about the words and music of both men and about the music of their era generally, but he never manages to draw Coward and Porter together in ways the one is entitled to expect in a dual biography." Lamb, however, presented a different opinion, writing that "this ingeniously contrived, exhaustively researched book provides rewarding reading and deserves a prominent place in the bibliographies of both its subjects."
Citron followed Noel and Cole with two other works in the "Great Songwriters" series: The Wordsmiths: Oscar Hammerstein II and Alan Jay Lerner and Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber: The New Musical. In the latter, Citron traces the careers of Stephen Sondheim, the award-winning lyricist of Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George, and Andrew Lloyd-Webber, creator of stage spectaculars such as Evita, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera. John Gross, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, observed that "the pursuit of seriousness … is the most obvious quality which the disparate figures of Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber have in common. Lloyd-Webber offers uplift where earlier composers simply tried to raise their audiences' spirits. Sondheim offers musical sophistication, intellectual pretension, and (except in his earlier work) generous helpings of emotional constriction." American Theatre critic Steven Drukman called Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber "a well-written, engaging account—simultaneously successful as critical history and biographical study."
In the 2004 work Jerry Herman: Poet of the Showtune, Citron profiles the lyricist and composer of such hit musicals as Mame, La Cage aux Folles, and Hello, Dolly! In the work, Citron discusses the tunesmith's career from his days as a lounge pianist to his successes on Broadway. Reviewing Jerry Herman in Booklist, Jack Helbig observed that Citron's "ardent, erudite discussions of Herman's music and lyrics reveal oft-unacknowledged depth, wit, and artistic order," and Library Journal contributor Bruce R. Schueneman stated that the author "ably details Herman's shows."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Theatre, January, 1994, David Olivenbaum, "Of Them They Sing," review of Noel and Cole: The Sophisticates, p. 76; January, 1998, review of The Musical from the Inside Out, p. 62; December, 2001, Steven Drukman, review of Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber: The New Musical, p. 73.
Back Stage, June 5, 1992, Martin Schaeffer, review of The Musical from the Inside Out, p. 41.
Booklist, September 15, 2004, Jack Helbig, review of Jerry Herman: Poet of the Showtune, p. 190.
Library Journal, August, 2001, Barry Zaslow, review of Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber, p. 110; September 15, 2004, Bruce R. Schueneman, review of Jerry Herman, p. 58.
Musical Times, spring, 2002, Stephen Banfield, "Through Thick and Thin," review of Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber, p. 60.
Notes, September, 1994, Andrew Lamb, review of Noel and Cole, p. 197.
Publishers Weekly, April 26, 1993, review of Noel and Cole, p. 67.
Stage Directions, May, 2002, Stephen Peithman, review of Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber, p. 59.
Times Literary Supplement, November 23, 2001, John Gross, review of Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber.
Washington Post Book World, May 23, 1993, Jonathan Yardley, "Singing for Their Suppers," review of Noel and Cole, p. 3.