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Arthur Sullivan


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See also: Gilbert & Sullivan

Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) was one of the foremost English composers of operetta in his day. He was born in London to a bandmaster, and had a knack for music innately. He studied music at Leipzig Conservatory, in Germany, where he met Franz Liszt and Edvard Grieg. Sullivan was a collaborator with William Schwenk Gilbert the playwright on many endeavors. He rose to instant fame with his “Savoy Operas”: The The Pirates of Penzance (1878), Princess Ida (1884), and most popularly of all, The Mikado (1885), plus much more. Many of the Gilbert and Sullivan works stealthily parodied British institutions, like the House of Commons and the “aesthetic” movement led by Oscar Wilde. Those were instigated by the theatrical impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte. Sullivan’s collaborations with W.S. Gilbert were resounding successes quite naturally; HMS Pinafore ran for 700 nights; Sullivan imitated the styles of Handel, Donizetti, and Verdi. However, Sullivan never took his bouncy operettas seriously, though they were immensely successful. He valued his more serious works more, such as Ivanhoe, though they are now obscure in this time period.


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  • TowerFestival

    See Gilbert and Sullivan's Yeomen of the Guard at the Tower of London on Sun 13 and Tue 15 September 2009. At the Tower for the first time in 30 years! Go to for information and tickets.

    10 Apr 2009 Reply

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