Sundgaard, Arnold 1909-2006 (Arnold Olaf Sundgaard)

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Sundgaard, Arnold 1909-2006 (Arnold Olaf Sundgaard)


See index for CA sketch: Born October 31, 1909, in St. Paul, MN; died of congestive heart failure, October 22, 2006, in Dallas, TX. Educator and author. Sundgaard was a lyricist, librettist, and playwright who has been credited with reviving the popularity of the song "The Yellow Rose of Texas." He was a 1935 graduate of the University of Wisconsin who also attended Yale Drama School; his first job was as a playwright for the Works Progress Administration during the Depression. His debut stage work, Spirochete, a Living Newspaper (1938) was produced in Chicago. Many people protested this play, which discussed the hazards of syphilis at a time when sexually transmitted diseases were considered taboo for public discussion. The play received positive reviews, however, and Sundgaard would go on to write other dramas, such as The First Crocus (1942) and The Kilgo Run (1955). He was sometimes better known, however, as a lyricist and librettist who collaborated with such composers as Douglas Moore, Alec Wilder, and Kurt Weill. Wilder was a special favorite of Sundgaard's, and the two wrote such operas as The Lowland Sea (1952), Kittiwake Island (1954), and The Truth about Windmills (1973). For Douglas Moore, Sundgaard composed the libretto for Giants in the Earth (1951), which won a Pulitzer Prize for Moore. At his height during the 1950s, Sundgaard wrote for the television series Omnibus. It was for this program that he uncovered a forgotten tune titled "The Yellow Rose of Texas." When Sundgaard included it in one of his shows, the song became a hit. Though best known for his musical work, Sundgaard also penned stories for children, such as Young Jethro's Difficult Dinosaur (1977) and The Lamb and the Butterfly (1988). In 1978, a number of his songs were recorded on the album More Singable Songs by Raffi, and Sundgaard's song "How Lovely Is Christmas" was performed by Bing Crosby that was re-released on the 2005 album Bing Crosby's White Christmas in Story and Song.



Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2006, p. B11.

New York Times, October 31, 2006, p. A23.