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W. S. Gilbert

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (18 November 1836 – 29 May 1911) was an English dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator best known for his collaboration with composer Arthur Sullivan, which produced fourteen comic operas. The most famous of these include H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and one of the most frequently performed works in the history of musical theatre, The Mikado. The popularity of these works was supported for over a century by year-round performances of them, in Britain and abroad, by the repertory company that Gilbert, Sullivan and their producer Richard D'Oyly Carte founded, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. These Savoy operas continue to be frequently performed in the English-speaking world and beyond.

Gilbert's creative output included over 75 plays and libretti, and numerous short stories, poems and lyrics, both comic and serious. After brief careers as a government clerk and a lawyer, Gilbert began to focus, in the 1860s, on writing light verse, including his Bab Ballads, short stories, theatre reviews and illustrations, often for Fun magazine. He also began to write burlesques and his first comic plays, developing a unique absurdist, inverted style that would later be known as his "topsy-turvy" style. He also developed a realistic method of stage direction and a reputation as a strict theatre director. In the 1870s, Gilbert wrote 40 plays and libretti, including his German Reed Entertainments, several blank-verse "fairy comedies", some serious plays, and his first five collaborations with Sullivan: Thespis, Trial by Jury, The Sorcerer, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance. In the 1880s, Gilbert focused on the Savoy operas, including Patience, Iolanthe, The Mikado, The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers.

In 1890, after this long and profitable creative partnership, Gilbert quarrelled with Sullivan and Carte concerning expenses at the Savoy Theatre; the dispute is referred to as the "carpet quarrel". Gilbert won the ensuing lawsuit, but the argument caused hurt feelings among the partnership. Although Gilbert and Sullivan were persuaded to collaborate on two last operas, they were not as successful as the previous ones. In later years, Gilbert wrote several plays, and a few operas with other collaborators. He retired, with his wife Lucy, and their ward, Nancy McIntosh, to a country estate, Grim's Dyke. He was knighted in 1907. Gilbert died of a heart attack while attempting to rescue a young woman to whom he was giving a swimming lesson in the lake at his home.

Gilbert's plays inspired other dramatists, including Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, and his comic operas with Sullivan inspired the later development of American musical theatre, especially influencing Broadway librettists and lyricists. According to The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Gilbert's "lyrical facility and his mastery of metre raised the poetical quality of comic opera to a position that it had never reached before and has not reached since".

Birth and Death Data: Born November 18, 1836 (London), Died May 29, 1911 (London)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1899 - 1942

Roles Represented in DAHR: librettist

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 76-100 of 211 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia 6263 12-in. approximately 1912 Oh, a private buffoon Walter Passmore Male vocal solo, with orchestra librettist  
Columbia 6264 12-in. approximately 1912 Dream song Walter Passmore Male vocal solo, with orchestra librettist  
Columbia 6316 12-in. approximately 1913 Judge's song Walter Passmore Male vocal solo, with orchestra librettist  
Columbia 6317 12-in. approximately 1913 The criminal cried Carrie Herwin ; Robert Howe ; Walter Passmore Vocal trio, with orchestra and chorus librettist  
Columbia 6318 12-in. approximately 1913 Here's a how-de-do Hilda Francis ; Edward James ; Walter Passmore Vocal trio, with orchestra librettist  
Columbia 75216 12-in. 11/16/1922 Patience : Vocal gems Columbia Light Opera Company [U.K.] Mixed vocal chorus and soloists, with orchestra librettist  
Columbia H149 10-in. approximately 1940 Major general's song Robert Armbruster ; Nelson Eddy Baritone vocal solo, with chorus and orchestra librettist  
Columbia H150 10-in. approximately 1940 My object all sublime Robert Armbruster ; Nelson Eddy Baritone vocal solo, with chorus and orchestra librettist  
Columbia H151 10-in. approximately 1940 I am monarch of the sea Robert Armbruster ; Nelson Eddy Baritone vocal solo, with chorus and orchestra librettist  
Columbia H153 10-in. approximately 1940 Oh! A private buffoon Robert Armbruster ; Nelson Eddy Baritone vocal solo, with orchestra librettist  
OKeh 196 10-in. approximately June 1918 Poor wandering one Grace Kerns Female vocal solo, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick 9064-9065 10-in. approximately Oct. 1922 Moon song Irene Williams Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick X11961-X11963 12-in. 11/24/1923 The Mikado : Vocal gems Brunswick Light Opera Company Mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick X11975-X11977 12-in. 11/26/1923 Mikado Brunswick Light Opera Company Vocal chorus and soloists, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick X11993-X11994 12-in. 11/27/1923 Mikado Brunswick Light Opera Company Vocal chorus and soloists, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27841 12-in. 7/10/1928 The Mikado Brunswick Light Opera Company Male vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27842 12-in. 7/10/1928 The Mikado Brunswick Light Opera Company Male vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27858 12-in. 7/17/1928 The Mikado Brunswick Light Opera Company Mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27859 12-in. 7/17/1928 The Mikado Brunswick Light Opera Company Mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27881 12-in. 7/19/1928 The Mikado Brunswick Light Opera Company Mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27882 12-in. 7/19/1928 The Mikado Brunswick Light Opera Company Mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27935 12-in. 7/31/1928 Pinafore Brunswick Light Opera Company Solo vocalists and mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27936 12-in. 7/31/1928 Pinafore Brunswick Light Opera Company Solo vocalists and mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27957 12-in. 8/2/1928 Pinafore Brunswick Light Opera Company Solo vocalists and mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Brunswick XE27958 12-in. 8/2/1928 Pinafore Brunswick Light Opera Company Solo vocalists and mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
(Results 76-100 of 211 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Gilbert, W. S.," accessed January 31, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102767.

Gilbert, W. S.. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102767.

"Gilbert, W. S.." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 31 January 2023.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102767

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