Carol Platt Liebau: RIP Cy Feuer

Thursday, May 18, 2006

RIP Cy Feuer

An eminent producer from the golden age of Broadway is gone. I was not terribbly familiar with Mr. Feuer, but this obituary in the New York Times made me terribly nostalgic (if that's possible, given that I wasn't actually alive during the referenced period). It notes of Mr. Feuer and his producing partner that:

They were at their peak from 1950 to 1965, a period often called the heyday of the American musical. This was before rock 'n' roll began its reign, when talents like Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hammerstein ruled the national culture, and shows like "My Fair Lady" and "West Side Story" went head-to-head on Broadway.

Cole Porter and Irving Berlin are my favorite songwriters. Those must have been the days . . .


Blogger Cliff said...

Those were goooood days.

5:50 AM  
Blogger Alan Kellogg said...

There's a melancholy to those days, a sad slipping away as popular music became an empty echo of itself. A world of, as Paul Simon put it, "People writing songs that voices never share."

Rock and Roll was dead, popular music moribund. Country music tried to fill the void, but it had not the depth needed. American culture was an emaciated parody of itself, starved by men hungry for the spoils of art, but even hungrier for control. The sort of control that will not tolerate the sort of creativity a healthy culture demands.

The American musical has long been a formalized art form. As bound by tradition as opera and ballet. The musical of the 50's and early 60's was the tradition carried to its logical extreme. A tradition that forgot its strengths in favor of surety. A tradition hollowed by its practitioners, drained of its passions.

"No one dared, disturb the sound of silence."

Technical brilliance? Yes. But no heart, no soul. A soap bubble grandeur that trembled at the hint of spirit. The cathedral as talcum powder and balsa wood.

It was the death of an age.

Oliver was the death of the musical. Death of the musical as something to watch dispassionately. Jesus Christ Super Star the resurrection of the musical as passion. The rebirth of the musical as something to draw you in, to involve you and stir your soul. Critics hate Andrew Lloyd Webber because he won't let you stand apart, detached. Him, and Stephen Sondheim, and others. Composers, lyricists, and songwriters who take hold of the spirit and fill it with emotions certain people find repulsive. Emotions such as caring, hope, love, anger, fear. Emotions that tear, empty, and leave the soul cleansed of the dregs that clog it after many years

Floating, falling, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation
Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write..
The power of the music of the night.

That is what the hollow men fear. That is what the empty fear. The threat and promise life gives us. We admire Spock, it is Kirk we care for.

Touch me
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is

A new day has begun

4:29 PM  

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