On this day in classical music: British composer Sir Malcolm Arnold died at age 84 in 2006. One of the leading British composers of the 20th century, Arnold had a natural gift for melody which quickly earned him an international reputation. His musical output, both large and varied, includes nine symphonies, numerous concertos, several suites of dances, ballets, operas, works for band, chamber music and film. Arnold won an Academy Award for his score to “The Bridge On the River Kwai.” He was knighted in 1993 for his services to music. Listen to the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band perform the final movement (Giubiloso) from Arnolds second set of “English Dances.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubQk6uDDBxs
On this day in the musical theatre: “A Doll’s Life,” a musical set during a rehearsal of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” opened on Broadway in 1982. Featuring a score by Larry Grossman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, “A Doll’s Life” became one of Broadway’s biggest flops, closing after just five performances. Insider’s referred to the ill-fated musical as “A Doll’s Death.” Even so, the musical earned three Tony Award nominations but failed to win in every category. The show addressed the question of what might have taken place after Nora slammed the door and abandoned her tyrannical husband Torvald.
Musical musings: The season is still young, but it’s not likely to produce a more perplexing curiosity than “A Doll’s Life,” the dour musical that opened at the Mark Hellinger last night. On this occasion, three legendary Broadway hands — Harold Prince, Betty Comden and Adolph Green — have inflated a spectacularly unpromising premise with loads of money, good intentions and hard work, only to end up with a show that collapses in its prologue and then skids into a toboggan slide from which there is no return. (Larry Grossman’s) operetta-like score, feelingly orchestrated by Bill Byers, is frequently impaled by the prosaic lyrics, but it strives for subtle, thematically integrated effects rather than Broadway numbers. Despite a few thrown-in party songs, some Sondheimisms and an opera parody as endless as the one in “Nine,” Mr. Grossman at least seems to know where he’s going in “A Doll’s Life.” Maybe his next collaborators will turn up the lights so he can find his way. – Frank Rich in the New York Times