I wanted to include some information about Martha that was cut from the print edition.
Knott befriended numerous local actors during her long theatrical career in Oklahoma City, including Suzanne Charney, Clyde Martin, Charlotte Franklin, Jane Hall and Billie Thrash. Their paths crossed frequently due to their mutual love of theater.
“Martha was not only a treasured friend, but also a treasure trove of theatrical knowledge and taught us all about comic timing,” said Billie Thrash. “Those of us who had the pleasure of sharing the stage with her always expanded on the W.C. Fields line and altered it to ‘Never perform with dogs, children or Martha Knott.’
“She’d steal the scene right out from under you, but never on purpose; she was just that endearing. From the tent shows of the long past with her theatrical parents to the modern day stage, she was always an audience favorite as well as a favorite of all who worked with her. I miss her terribly.”
Knott often used her quick wit to inform the many comedic roles she played. Even when talking about herself, Knott’s self-deprecating sense of humor was disarmingly pointed. “You’ve got to be a little bit of a ham to do this kind of thing,” Knott once said. “I guess with me, the ham just cured a little better.”
On this day in classical music: Musical titan Ludwig van Beethoven died at age 56 in 1827. Despite having spent more than half of his adult life completely deaf, Beethoven continued to compose. Many of his greatest works were produced during the final years of his life: the “Symphony No. 9,” “The Consecration of the House” overture, the last five string quartets and the “Grosse Fuge,” the last five piano sonatas and the “Missa Solemnis.” Nearly two centuries later, his works rank among the most often performed in nearly every area of the repertoire. French composer/conductor Pierre Boulez was born in 1925. Today, the octogenarian remains active as one of the industry’s most talented conductors. March 26 als0 marks the world premiere of American composer William Schuman’s cantata “A Free Song.” Based on works by Walt Whitman, the 1943 work won the first Pulitzer Prize for Music. Schuman also served as president of The Juilliard School from 1945 to 1961.
On this day in the musical theatre: “Funny Girl” opened in 1964 with Barbra Streisand recreating the life and career of vaudeville comedienne Fanny Brice. Despite its tremendous popularity, the show failed to win a single Tony Award. This was the season dominated by “Hello, Dolly!” which won 10 of the 11 awards for which it was nominated. Luckily, Streisand got to recreate her role in the 1968 film version of “Funny Girl” and took home an Oscar for her performance.
Musical musings: The story is told that when Vladimir Horowitz came to the doors of heaven, the angel in charge of music shouted to the harp-playing angels, “Put your harps away and roll out the Steinway. Horowitz is coming! – from “My Life With the Great Pianists” by Franz Mohr.
On this day in classical music: Arturo Toscanini, the legendary conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra from 1937 to 1954, was born in Parma, Italy in 1867. His tyrannical reign with this handpicked ensemble produced many of the 20th century’s most iconic recordings, from the complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies to the Roman trilogy composed by his fellow countryman Ottorino Respighi. Another Toscanini specialty, somewhat unexpectedly, was Debussy’s ”La Mer.” During his American tenure, Toscanini conducted more than 50 performances of this Impressionist masterpiece. Today, his recording with the NBC Symphony sounds dry (made in NBC’s acoustically problematic Studio 8-H) but one can still marvel at the vibrant color palette this orchestra produced. Curiously, Debussy died on today’s date in 1918. March 25 also marked the premiere of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5″ for soprano and eight cellos. Everyone from Victoria de los Angeles to Kiri Te Kanawa recorded it but Anna Moffo made it a repertory staple.
On this day in the musical theater: The original production of “Gypsy” closed in 1961 after 702 performances. The show was Ethel Merman’s last great hurrah. She was 57 when she appeared in the 1966 revival of “Annie Get Your Gun,” a production that was humorously dubbed “Granny Get Your Gun.” In 1970, Merman finally stepped into the role created with her in mind, the meddling Dolly Gallagher Levi in Jerry Herman’s “Hello, Dolly!” After Merman turned down the part in 1964, it became a Tony Award-winning vehicle for Carol Channing.
Musical musings: Music is but one of the arts, but it lives in all of them. Music is directed toward the ear but appeals indirectly to all the senses and their mental counterparts. Music is the art to which all other arts aspire. – from the book “Piano Pieces” by Russell Sherman