Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-2007

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Martin Kalmanoff, American composer of operas, musicals, choral works, religious services and popular songs, was born in Brooklyn, NY, May 24, 1920, and died July 14, 2007, in Mendham, NJ.

He studied piano and composition from the age of seven, graduated from Woodmere Academy in 1937 and studied music at Harvard (1937-1943), where he received Bachelors and Masters degrees, and studied with Walter Piston. He began his career as a popular songwriter, sometimes writing his own lyrics, but mostly collaborating with either Atra Baer (his first wife) or Aaron Schroeder, though he often worked with other lyricists. As his career progressed, Kalmanoff devoted most of his energy to operas and musicals. His first few operas were written with Atra Baer, while other collaborators included Eugene Ionesco (The Bald Prima Donna), William Saroyan (Opera, Opera), Eric Bentley (The Harmfulness Of Tobacco) and Lewis Allan (The Insect Comedy). Kalmanoff frequently wrote vocal or choral pieces, and, later in his life, Jewish prayer services. Kalmanoff also performed frequently as a pianist or organist in synagogues and restaurants, and as pianist/conductor/ arranger for summer stock and community theatres.

From the description of Martin Kalmanoff papers, 1928-2002 (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 276931125

Martin Kalmanoff (born Brooklyn, NY, May 24, 1920, died July 14, 2007, Mendham, NJ) studied piano and composition from the age of seven. He graduated from Woodmere Academy in 1937 and studied music at Harvard (1937-1943), where he received Bachelors and Masters degrees, and studied with Walter Piston. He began his career as a popular songwriter, sometimes writing his own lyrics, but mostly collaborating with either Atra Baer (his first wife) or Aaron Schroeder, though he often worked with other lyricists. Artists who recorded his songs included Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo, Connie Francis, Julius LaRosa, Vic Damone, Engelbert Humperdinck, Roy Rogers, Billy Butterfield and Elvis Presley.

As his career progressed, Kalmanoff devoted most of his energy to operas and musicals. His first few operas ( Brandy Is My True Love’s Name, The Empty Bottle, Fit For A King, Noah And The Stowaway and Godiva ) were written with Atra Baer. Other collaborators included Eugene Ionesco ( The Bald Prima Donna ), William Saroyan ( Opera, Opera ), Eric Bentley ( The Harmfulness Of Tobacco ) and Lewis Allan ( The Insect Comedy ). The Insect Comedy, which Kalmanoff considered his masterpiece, was written in the 1950s but did not receive its premiere until 1993.

Among his musicals were A Quiet Game Of Cribble, Give Me Liberty, Green Mansions, The Victory At Masada, King David And David King and No Bed Of Roses (an adaptation of the play The Fourposter ). Kalmanoff also wrote many musicals for children, including Half Magic In King Arthur’s Court, Little Joe And His Magic Bat, The Magic Beanstalk and Young Tom Edison .

Kalmanoff frequently wrote vocal or choral pieces, and, later in his life, Jewish prayer services. The Joy Of Prayer, a setting of Sabbath services, was recorded by Sherrill Milnes and the American Symphony Orchestra. He occasionally wrote instrumental pieces earlier in his career but these did not represent his main compositional interests. Kalmanoff also performed frequently as a pianist or organist in synagogues and restaurants, and as pianist/conductor/ arranger for summer stock and community theatres.

Kalmanoff promoted his music energetically and managed to have it performed often: of his 54 musical theater or opera works, 43 were performed on stage or broadcast on radio or television. He also received recognition during his life. Fit For A King won the Robert Merrill Contest (1950), The Great Stone Face won second prize in the Harvey Gaul Contest (1968), and he received grants in 1968 from the Hammerstein Foundation and in 1978 from the New York State Council On The Arts and the American Music Center.

Source: Bradley H. Short. "Kalmanoff, Martin." The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Ed. Stanley Sadie. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 31 Oct. 2008 <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/O902527>.

From the guide to the Martin Kalmanoff papers, 1928-2002, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. Lizzie Strotter : (a modern Lysistrata), or The women war on war (with a sideswipe at high fashion) / libretto and music by Martin Kalmanoff. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. XXth century / [words by] Robert Hillyer ; music by Martin Kalmanoff. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. The Lord is my shepherd / music by Martin Kalmanoff. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Lucille Lortel papers, 1902-2000 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. A modern elegy / poem by Atra Baer ; music by Martin Kalmanoff. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. Ici-bas / [paroles de] Sully Prudhomme ; [musique de] Martin Kalmanoff. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. Empty bottle : an opera in three acts / text by Atra Baer ; music by Martin Kalmanoff. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. Martin Kalmanoff papers, 1928-2002 New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. The Lord is my shepherd : psalm 23 / Martin Kalmanoff. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. What lips my lips have kissed / sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay ; music by Martin Kalmanoff. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. Be calm, O soul so often tried / [words by] Robert Hillyer ; music by Martin Kalmanoff. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. Godiva : a modern musical in three acts / music by Martin Kalmanoff ; libretto by Atra Baer. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. Dream / words & music by Martin Kalmanoff. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Martin Kalmanoff papers, 1928-2002 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Kalmanoff, Martin, 1920-. The harmfulness of tobacco : a mono-opera / music by Martin Kalmanoff ; based on the play by Anton Chekhov ; English version by Eric Bentley. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Baer, Atra. person
associatedWith Baer, Atra. person
associatedWith Bentley, Eric, 1916- person
associatedWith Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich, 1860-1904. person
associatedWith Hillyer, Robert, 1895-1961 person
associatedWith Lortel, Lucille person
associatedWith Millay, Edna St. Vincent, 1892-1950 person
associatedWith Saddler, Donald person
associatedWith Sully Prudhomme, 1839-1907 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Songs (medium voice) with piano
Music--Manuscripts--Facsimiles
Composers--United States
Psalms (Music)--23rd psalm
Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices, 4 parts) with piano
Musical theater--United States
Sacred songs with piano
Operas--Vocal scores with piano
Musical theater
Composers
Occupation
Composers
Lyricists
Function

Person

Birth 1920-05-24

Death 2007-07-14

Americans

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