Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding

By Alice Goldfarb Marquis | Go to book overview

1
SEVENTY-SIX
TROMBONES

Ya got Trouble,—my friend, right here, I say Trouble,
right here in River City
.

—THE MUSIC MAN

WHEN PROFESSOR HAROLD HILL first rapped out these lines on the stage of New York's Majestic Theater, critics cheered The Music Man's nostalgic portrait of an Iowa town besotted by promises of cultural amenities. "A warm and genial cartoon of American life," said Brooks Atkinson's review in the next day's New York Times. While "mulcting the customers," the fast-talking professor had also "transform[ed] a dull town into a singing and dancing community." Since that first performance on December 19, 1957, Meredith Willson's charming musical has been staged thousands of times, currently averaging more than two hundred productions each year. A movie version in 1962 reprised the artless tale of how the "professor" bamboozles the naive folk of River City into parting with thousands of dollars for uniforms, instruments, and music lessons for their children. "Trouble ... with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pool," the seductive scamp rants. "Friends, the idle brain is the Devil's playground.... Gotta figger out a way t'keep the young ones moral after schoooool." 1

Though it travels modestly as an evening's light entertainment, The Music Man poignantly enfolds Americans' deep and long-standing yearning for cultural improvement. The musical is set in 1912, but its sunny outlook reflects the national mood near the end of the 1950s, when it was first produced. Not only had the United States gloriously triumphed in the Second World War, but its wealth had also helped to rebuild the ruined economies of its European allies, not to mention those of its erstwhile ene

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Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Art Lessons - Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • 1 - Seventy-Six Trombones *
  • 2 - West Side Story *
  • 3 - A Man for All Seasons *
  • 4 - The Nutcracker *
  • 5 - The Sorcerer's Apprentice *
  • 6 - A Night at the Opera *
  • 7 - Flowers of Evil *
  • 8 - The Beggar's Opera *
  • Notes *
  • Index *
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