Biography

Adam Guettel (pronounced “Gettle”; b. 1965), son of Mary Rodgers and grandson of legendary composer Richard Rodgers, is an American musical theater composer and lyricist best known for 2005’s The Light in the Piazza, for which he won a Tony Award.

Guettel grew up in New York City’s Upper West Side and performed as a boy soprano in operas including Pelléas et Mélisande at the Metropolitan Opera and The Magic Flute at the New York City Opera. Around the time his voice changed, Guettel began composing music, including one piece that Richard Rodgers overheard and asked Guettel to play louder. (Guettel has qualified the compliment, noting that “He was literally on his deathbed on the other side of the living-room wall.”) The composer attended Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated from Yale in 1987.

His early works include 1996’s Floyd Collins, Love’s Fire, and Saturn Returns (which was recorded as Myths and Hymns). Guettel’s music was almost immediately characterized by its complexity and use of various strings. He is perhaps one of the modern musical theater composers most heavily influenced by the work of Stephen Sondheim (for his part, Sondheim has referred to Guettel’s work as “dazzling”.) Guettel’s songs have been recorded by such artists as Audra McDonald and Brian d’Arcy James.

After six years working on the project, Guettel’s musical The Light in the Piazza opened on Broadway in 2005. The show, which starred Victoria Clark and Kelli O’Hara, was met with critical acclaim, and on June 5, 2005, Adam Guettel won the Tony Award for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre for The Light in the Piazza. He also took home the award for Best Orchestrations for the same show.

In 2003, one of Guettel’s future projects was said to be “a shockingly ambitious concert piece for Audra McDonald.” The composer also spent much of 2006 working on a musical adaptation of The Princess Bride with original screenwriter William Goldman. As of January 2007, Guettel had completed several songs for the project. An orchestral suite from the score was performed at the Hollywood Bowl in November 2006, and Lincoln Center conducted a workshop of Bride in January 2007. The project was abandoned when Goldman reportedly demanded 75 percent of the author’s share, even though Guettel was writing both the music and the lyrics.

Edited by refute on 10 Jun 2007, 22:56

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