Arthur Sullivan (1842 - 1900)
The name of Arthur Sullivan is indissolubly wedded with that of W.S. Gilbert, with whom he wrote a succession of operettas that have remained a popular part of English national repertoire. They were for many years the sole property of the company founded for their performance by Richard D’Oyly Carte, who later built the Savoy Theatre in London for the performance of what became the Savoy Operas. The national institution that Gilbert and Sullivan have become has drawn attention away from Sullivan’s more serious work. He was knighted in 1883.
Operettas and Other Stage Works
Operettas with words by Gilbert range from Trial by Jury in 1875 to The Gondoliers in 1889, followed in 1893 by Utopia Limited and, in 1896, by the lesser-known The Grand Duke. HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, Patience (with its satire on Oscar Wilde), the political satire Iolanthe, The Mikado, Ruddigore and The Yeomen of the Guard all continue to bear witness to the deft and witty music of Sullivan and the comic verbal talents of Gilbert. Sullivan also wrote incidental music for the theatre, operas and ballet scores.
Orchestral and Choral Music
Sullivan’s music for the concert hall has been largely eclipsed by his successful collaboration with W.S. Gilbert. His compositions include his Irish Symphony, a cello concerto, cantatas and oratorios, and settings of the Te Deum in addition to works intended to mark public occasions. The orchestral Pineapple Poll was devised by Charles Mackerras as a comic ballet drawing on the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.