Larson, Jonathan

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Biographical Note

  • 1960, Feb. 4: Born, Mt. Vernon, New York (parents are Allan S. Larson, a direct-marketing executive, and Nanette Larson, a homemaker)
  • 1974 - 1978 : Attended White Plains High School, White Plains, N.Y. Played tuba in symphonic and marching band, sung in and accompanied choruses and elite vocal ensemble, and performed in school and community plays and musicals, including Gypsy (Herbie), West Side Story (Riff), Seesaw (David), Pajama Game (Heinze), The Late Christopher Bean, and The Teahouse of the August Moon
  • 1978 June: Graduated from White Plains High School
  • 1978 - 1982 : Studied theater at Adelphi University, Long Island, N.Y., on a four-year, full-tuition scholarship Performed in Godspell (Jesus), Twelfth Night (Malvolio), Rhymers of Eldrich (Skelly), Moonchildren (Lucky), and was music director for several cabarets Earned Actors Equity card after working summers as performer in summer stock at Barn Theatre, Augusta, Mich.
  • 1979 Fall: Composed first score for El Libro de Buen Amor (libretto and lyrics by Jacques Burdick)
  • 1980 Apr.: Wrote Herstory cabaret with Nicolas Petron
  • 1981 Apr.: Wrote The Steak Tartare Caper with Nicolas Petron
  • 1981 Oct.: Wrote Sacrimmoralinority cabaret with David Armstrong (taped for cable television, Jan. 1982)
  • 1982 Apr.: Wrote American Scream cabaret with Maggie Lally
  • 1982 Summer - 1982 Fall : Received BFA, cum laude, Adelphi University, Long Island, N.Y. Wrote book, music and lyrics for a musical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, and actively pursued getting it produced on Broadway by 1984 Composed three tunes for animated Sesame Street segments Performed with piano-bar trio J. Glitz
  • 1983 Jan. - 1983 Feb. : Saved (formerly known as Sacrimmoralinority) presented as an Equity showcase at Blitz Theatre, N.Y.
  • 1983 Mar.: Recorded demo of 1984 score
  • 1983 Summer: Performed with singer Trace Robinson at Nantucket restaurants
  • 1983 Summer - 1983 Fall : Engaged Donald Farber to help acquire stage rights of 1984
  • 1983: Joined ASCAP
  • 1984 Mar.: J. Glitz performed weekly at Panache
  • 1984 Apr.: J. Glitz performed weekly at Don’t Tell Mama
  • 1984 Spring - 1984 Summer : Began writing Mowgli with Seth Goldman
  • 1984 Summer: Played piano bar in Nantucket
  • 1984 Nov.: Wrote Pageantry with David Armstrong for Adelphi University
  • 1984: Made final efforts to get 1984 produced
  • 1985 Feb.: Began writing Superbia
  • 1985 Apr.: Wrote One Big Happy Family cabaret with Michael Lindsay for Adelphi University
  • 1985 Fall - 1985 Winter : Joined ASCAP musical theatre workshop and presented songs from Superbia
  • 1985: Pursued production of Mowgli
  • 1986 Apr.: Selected for Dramatists Guild workshop and presented act one of Superbia
  • 1986 Summer: Adapted and composed music underscore for American Tail and Blinkins book-and-cassette episodes
  • 1986 Oct.: Composed underscoring for American Authors plays
  • 1987 Feb.: Wrote Prostate of the Union cabaret with Michael Lindsay for Adelphi University
  • 1987 Mar.: Wrote music for three songs in Bubble Gum, a one-woman show by Alicia Stone
  • 1987 Aug.: Wrote modern dance score for Brenda Daniels’ Garden Party
  • 1987 Oct.: Wrote Emote Control cabaret with Michael Lindsay for Adelphi University
  • 1987 Fall: Stephen Sondheim’s guest for last five weeks of Into the Woods rehearsals
  • 1987 Dec.: Scored Sweet Valley Twins book-and-cassette project
  • 1987: Continued revising Superbia and mounted staged readings at Naked Angels and Public Theatre, in addition to producing private readings and submitting the show to several regional theatres
  • 1988 Jan.: Superbia won Richard Rodgers Development Award
  • 1988 Summer: Scored two Land Before Time book-and-cassette episodes
  • 1988 Fall: Recorded new demo of “Genre in a Drum”
  • 1988: Worked with director R.J. Cutler and producer Ira Weitzman to prepare for Dec. 19th staged readings of Superbia at Playwrights Horizons
  • 1989 Apr. - 1989 May : Travelled to Europe
  • 1989 Spring: Scored Venus and Other Myths for Brenda Daniels
  • 1989 June: Met Billy Aronson who conceived a contemporary version of La Bohème
  • 1989 Summer: Participated in American Music Theatre Festival’s Sitting on the Edge of the Future and wrote “Hosing the Furniture”
  • 1989, Sept. 11: Produced, directed and performed in Superbia concert at the Village Gate
  • 1989 Sept.: Awarded Stephen Sondheim Award from the American Music Theatre Festival
  • 1989 Fall: Invited to write for National Lampoon’s Tricentennial Revue
  • 1989 Fall - 1989 Winter : Wrote and recorded modern dance score Damage for Brenda Daniels
  • 1989 Dec.: Recorded demo of his and Aronson's first three songs
  • 1989 Winter - 1990 Spring : Wrote one-man show, first called 30/90 and then Boho Days
  • 1990 Sept.: Performed Boho Days at Second Stage
  • 1990 Fall: Composed incidental music for Naked Angels programs Composed and recorded modern dance score Roam for Bill Douglas
  • 1990: Adapted Superbia as a screenplay Wrote “Say Da-Da” and other scores for Jann Wenner home movies
  • 1991 May - 1991 June : Appeared with Roger Bart in Billy Bishop Goes to War presented by the American Stage Company at Farleigh Dickinson University
  • 1991 Spring - 1991 Summer : Rewrote Boho Days as tick, tick...BOOM!
  • 1991 June: Composed incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival
  • 1991 Nov.: Performed tick, tick...BOOM! at Village Gate
  • 1991 Dec.: Superbia reading at the Public Theatre
  • 1991 Winter: Resumed work on RENT
  • 1991: Worked on screenplay, The Wreck of the Barque Stefano, with Eddie Rosenstein
  • 1992 Winter - 1992 Spring : Tried to package songs from tick, tick...BOOM! as a pop album; recorded a demo for Geffen Publishing
  • 1992 Feb.: Completed second draft of The Wreck of the Barque Stefano screenplay
  • 1992 Summer - 1992 Winter : Began work with Hal Hackady on Blocks
  • 1992 Sept.: Sent RENT pitch letter to New York Theatre Workshop
  • 1992 Fall: Worked on Sacred Cows project
  • 1992 Winter: Began work on act two of RENT
  • 1992 Dec.: Performed tick, tick...BOOM! at the New York Theatre Workshop
  • 1993 Apr.: Performed tick, tick...BOOM! at the New York Theatre Workshop
  • 1993 June: Staged reading of RENT at the New York Theatre Workshop
  • 1993 Fall: Blocks rehearsed and performed
  • 1993: Worked with Bob Golden on children’s video, Away We Go! Won Stanley Drama Award and Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla special recognition award
  • 1994 Jan.: Won Richard Rodgers Development Award
  • 1994 Oct.: Studio production of RENT at New York Theatre Workshop
  • 1994: Participated in New York Theatre Workshop summer retreats Directed and edited Away We Go!
  • 1995 Feb. - 1995 Mar. : Blocks performed
  • 1995 Spring - 1995 Summer : Composed music for, recorded, and rehearsed J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation for En Garde Arts
  • 1995, Oct. 21: After ten years, quit job as waiter at the Moondance Diner
  • 1995 Fall: Composed score for reading of God’s Heart by Craig Lucas
  • 1995: Wrote sea chantey for White Squall Worked on packaging of Away We Go! video
  • 1996, Jan. 24: Dress rehearsal for RENT
  • 1996, Jan. 25: Larson died, New York, N.Y. (from an aortic aneurysm caused by Marfan syndrome)
  • 1996, Jan. 26: RENT began previews at the New York Theatre Workshop (opened Feb. 13; closed Mar. 31)
  • 1996, Feb. 3: Memorial for Larson at Minetta Lane Theatre
  • 1996, Apr. 9: Larson awarded Pulitzer Prize for Drama for RENT
  • 1996, Apr. 16: RENT began previews at Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre (opened Apr. 29)
  • 1996 Spring: RENT won Obie, Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, Theatre World and other awards
  • 1996, June 2: RENT won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Featured Actor in a Musical
  • 1997 - 2008 : The Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation presented annual grants to composers, lyricists, and bookwriters (beginning in 2009 the Jonathan Larson Grants were administered by the American Theatre Wing)
  • 2001, Mar. 23: tick, tick...BOOM! opened off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theater
  • 2002, Jan. 6: tick, tick...BOOM! closed off-Broadway at the Jane Street Theater
  • 2005, Mar. 31 - Aug. 28 : tick, tick...BOOM! played at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London’s West End
  • 2005, Nov. 23: RENT, the motion picture, premiered
  • 2008, Sept. 7: RENT closed on Broadway after seventeen years and 5,124 performances—becoming, at the time, the seventh longest-running show in Broadway history

From the guide to the Jonathan Larson Papers, 1978-1996, (Music Division Library of Congress)

Jonathan Larson (b. Feb. 4, 1960, in Mt. Vernon, N.Y.; d. Jan. 25, 1996, in New York, N.Y.) was an American composer, lyricist, playwright, and performer who wrote primarily for the musical theater.

From the description of Jonathan Larson papers, 1978-1996. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71128303

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Jonathan Larson Papers, 1978-1996 Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Larson, Jonathan. Jonathan Larson papers, 1978-1996. Library of Congress
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Burdick, Jacques. person
associatedWith Burdick, Jacques. person
associatedWith Daniels, Brenda. person
associatedWith Daniels, Brenda. person
associatedWith Golden, Bob. person
associatedWith Golden, Bob. person
associatedWith New York Theatre Workshop (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith New York Theatre Workshop (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Sondheim, Stephen. person
associatedWith Sondheim, Stephen. person
associatedWith Weil, Tim. person
associatedWith Weil, Tim. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Musical theater
Musical theater


Birth 1960-02-04

Death 1996-01-25

Active 1978

Active 1996




Ark ID: w6c932bs

SNAC ID: 87250900