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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What Made Frank Wildhorn A Top Musical Composer

"One of the first things I talk about when I do master classes at theatre programs is, 'Stop listening to theatre music! Listen to everything and try to find something you love in every style of music.' The point is that there is room for everything and, certainly in their day, the Cole Porters and Berlins and Gershwins - they were the popular songwriters of their time. Pop seemed to be a good enough word then…I grew up with so much music in the house - and such eclectic music in the house. I always thank my parents for that because they always taught me what I try to teach, which is: 'Frank, try to find something you like in every style of music - and be open! Just keep being open and keep being a student of it all.' And, whether it's Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff; or it's Matchbox 20 or Linkin Park; or it's Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye; or if it's Traffic or it's Crosby, Stills and Nash; or it's Julie Andrews and Sammy Davis; or it's Whitney Houston - the point is: try to find something in every style that really speaks to you. That's really my philosophy: to be a student of it all and don't close yourself off… I remember when I was fourteen or fifteen when I was teaching myself to play the piano - and I was just kind of just playing jazz - and I heard the scores of SUPERSTAR and WEST SIDE STORY back to back. What I remember about that - and it was very important to my life at that time - I remember saying to myself, 'Oh, my God! So many musical vocabularies are in these two scores: classical, jazz, pop, Latin, theatre, et cetera. So many vocabularies with these big, giant, commercial melodies'. I just got so turned on by the combination of those two scores at the same time… There is no question that my background and learning years as a pop songwriter was by far the best training I could have ever had for the theatre because on a daily basis you are constantly having to write for so many different points of view. Whether it's a sixteen-year-old African American girl or a forty-year-old white country singer from Nashville - everyday you do that when you are working for a publishing company. Sometimes you don't even know who it is you are going to collaborate with until you meet them that day! Every. Single. Day. It was the best training ground I could have had ever had for theatre."
Frank Wildhorn

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