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Kurt Weill Prize – 2011

The 2011 Kurt Weill Prize for outstanding scholarship in music theater since 1900, carrying a cash prize of $5,000, has been awarded to Larry Stempel, Professor of Music at Fordham University, for his book Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater (W.W. Norton, 2010). In this captivating and richly researched critical history, Stempel traces the evolution of musicals from 19th-century minstrel shows and burlesques, through the “golden age” of Show Boat and Oklahoma!, and into the new millennium, examining the works in relation to the larger historical and cultural forces that have shaped the genre. The Prize panel praised Stempel’s “sweeping and comprehensive narrative” for its scope, scholarly detail, and readability, calling it “eye-opening for scholars and general readers alike.”

In addition to the book prize, a $2,000 Kurt Weill Prize for outstanding article has been awarded to David Savran for the chapter entitled “Fascinating Rhythm” in his book Highbrow/Lowdown: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class (University of Michigan Press, 2009). In the chapter, Savran provides a lucid investigation of how the Gershwins challenged the highbrow/lowbrow divide of the 1920s through their hybrid, category-defying works for the musical stage. Savran is Distinguished Professor of Theatre and Vera Mowry Roberts Chair in American Theatre at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Awarded biennially by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Kurt Weill Prize recognizes distinguished scholarship in music theater since 1900, including opera and dance. Books and articles published in 2009-2010 were eligible for the 2011 prize; nominations were reviewed by a panel of music and theater experts.

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