"On My Way" by Joseph Horowitz
The Untold Story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin, and Porgy and Bess

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A resurrection story that offers a significant contribution to the history of American popular theater.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A revelatory history of the operatic masterpiece that both made and destroyed Rouben Mamoulian, its director and unsung hero.


"Bring my goat!" Porgy exclaims in the final scene of Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess. Bess, whom he loves, has left for New York City, and he’s determined to find her. When his request is met with astonishment—New York is a great distance from South Carolina’s Catfish Row—Porgy remains undaunted. He mounts his goat-cart and leads the community in an ecstatic finale, "Oh Lawd, I’m on my way."

Stephen Sondheim has called "Bring my goat!" "one of the most moving moments in musical theater history." For years it was assumed that DuBose Heyward—the author of the seminal novella and subsequent play, Porgy, and later the librettist for the opera Porgy and Bess—penned this historic line. In fact, both it and "Oh Lawd, I'm on my way" were added to the play eight years earlier by that production’s unheralded architect: Rouben Mamoulian. Porgy and Bess as we know it would not exist without the contributions of this master director.


Culling new information from the recently opened Mamoulian Archives at the Library of Congress, award-winning author Joseph Horowitz shows that, more than anyone else, Mamoulian took Heyward's vignette of a regional African-American subculture and transformed it into an epic theater work, a universal parable of suffering and redemption. Part biography, part revelatory history, "On My Way" re-creates Mamoulian's visionary style on stage and screen, his collaboration with George Gershwin, and the genesis of the opera that changed the face of American musical life.

 

About Joseph Horowitz

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Joseph Horowitz is the author of seven previous books, including Understanding Toscanini (named one of the best books of the year by the New York Book Critics Circle and Publishers Weekly) and Classical Music in America (named one of the best books of the year by the Economist). A former New York Times music critic and executive director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, he is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two NEH Fellowships, among other honors. He lives in New York City.
 
Published July 29, 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company. 313 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for "On My Way"
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by TED CHAPIN on Jul 26 2013

"Porgy and Bess" remains George Gershwin's ultimate triumph, of course, but "On My Way" shows indisputably that Rouben Mamoulian was a major member of the creative team that brought the work to life. In short, Gershwin relied on his collaborators, as the creators of all works of musical theater must.

Read Full Review of "On My Way": The Untold Story... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Kirkus

Good
on Apr 28 2013

A resurrection story that offers a significant contribution to the history of American popular theater.

Read Full Review of "On My Way": The Untold Story... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Vinton Rafe McCabe on Jul 29 2013

...On My Way may not be the perfect beach read this summer, it is a thorough and satisfying study of the sometimes combative collaborative process...

Read Full Review of "On My Way": The Untold Story... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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