Marc Blitzstein

A Bio-Bibliography

by Leonard J. Lehrman


Provides a unique and full perspective on the works of this influential American composer.

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September 2005


Pages 656
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts
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Marc Blitzstein was one of the 20th century's most important American composers, lyricists, and critics, often credited with having virtually invented opera in the American vernacular. Called the father of American opera in the vernacular by luminaries Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, Blitzstein was a masterful pianist, coach, and accompanist, though, ironically, he made more money on the lyrics to one song—Mack the Knife—than on everything else he ever did. Blitzstein's brilliant career was cut short in 1964 when he died at the age of 58. This book catalogs Blitzstein's own writings and writings about him, followed by detailed listings (chronological, alphabetical, and genre), analysis, a comprehensive performance history, and summaries of all known critiques of his 128 original musical works and 18 texts set to the music of others.

Shown in detail are the ways in which Blitzstein took music from his earlier works and developed it in later works, a process that Lehrman utilized in completing (with Bernstein's and the Estate's approval) 20 Blitzstein works for performance, including The Cradle Will Rock, I've Got the Tune, No for an Answer, Idiots First, and Sacco and Vanzetti, which Blitzstein believed would be his magnum opus. The book provides a unique and full perspective on the works of one of America's greatest composers—one who deserves to be better known.


  • This is followed by a complete discography/videography (commercial and private), and an index of names and organizations. Also discussed in detail are the ways in which Blitzstein took music from his earlier works and developed it in his later works. This book provides a unique and full perspective on this influential American composer.
Table of Contents

Biography & Scope NoteAbbreviations UsedGenealogyDedications, TeachersImportant Performances of Others' MusicEva GoldbeckChronological List of Musical Works (W1-W128)Works with OrchestraChamber Music WorksPiano Solo WorksFilm ScoresIncidental Music ScoresBalletsMusic & Sketches for RevuesOperas & MusicalsChoral WorksVocal QuartetsVocal TriosVocal DuetsVocal SolosChronological List of Texts to Music by Others (T1-T18)Alphabetical List of Works, Including Alternate TitlesList of Articles for Publication Written by Blitzstein (A1-A96)General Articles & Documents on Blitzstein During His Lifetime (G1-G65)Death Notices & Memorial Tributes to Blitzstein (M1-M44)General Articles & Documents on Blitzstein After His Death (P1-P63)



"[M]onumental....Lehrman's book opens with an interesting miscellany, including an exhaustive genealogy and an ample bibliography on Blitzstein's writer-wife, Eva Goldbeck. What follows is a chronological list of Blitzstein's works by genre; a chronological list of the composers texts to music by others; a list of articles written by Blitzstein; a list of general articles about Blitzstein written both during his lifetime and after his death; a large annotated section devoted to articles and documentation organized by work; a discography and a videography including archival artifacts; and an index of names and organizations. Researchers will want to know that the microfilm reel numbers refer to archival material that resides at the Blitzstein Collection at the Wisconsin State Historical Society in Madison....[t]he sheer magnitude of this accomplishment, a life in documents for which the term, bio-bibliography hardly suffices."—Howard Pollack, The Institute for Studies in American Music


"Leonard Lehrman has compiled an important reference work on the influential American composer, Marc Blitzstein. Lehrman knows the Blitzstein works inside out, and can write in the composer's style, having completed several pieces from existing sketches after Blitzstein's death. But, this work is about scholarship. It is a description of everything Blitzstein ever wrote and everything written about him. This comprehensiveness, along with accompanying crtiical analyses, makes this the definitive reference work on Blitzstein to date. Since Blitzstein's influence on younger American composers has been termed incalculable, so will this work earn a place on the bookshelf of every American music lover who needs to know the details and specifics of the Blitzstein oeuvre, and where to obtain these materials."—Joseph Pehrson, Co-Director, Composers Concordance, Inc.

"Leonard Lehrman's Marc Blitzstein bibliography is an accomplishment of extraordinary scope and depth. A resource for composers, musicians, and scholars now and in the future, this ambitious work complements Eric Gordon's biography of Blitzstein, Mark the Music, and stands on its own as an invaluable repository."—Christopher Davis, Nephew of Marc Blitzstein

"Marc Blitzstein was a man of the theater and a composer of originality and brilliance. Like Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Bizet, and Britten, he created indelible characters, portrayed whole swaths of society, on stage. The Cradle Will Rock and Regina are the tip of a mammoth iceberg, well worth exploring--and performing. Leonard Lehrman's comprehensive and fascinating Marc Blitzstein: A Bio-Bibliography provides essential guidance on all aspects of Blitzstein's life and work and belongs in every music, theater, or American-studies library."—Ralph P. Locke, Professor of Musicology, Eastman School of Music

"Marc Blitzstein is a major presence in modern American culture. Or should be. But since his bizarre death at age 59 he has faded from public consciousness, while our world grows evermore illiterate.
Now almost single-handedly, Leonard Lehrman has brought back an awareness of Blitzstein's music on his hundreth birthday--not just the early crossover pieces but the final unfinished theater works. Thanks also to the continuing and indispensable series of Bio-Bibliographies published by Greenwood Press."—Ned Rorem

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