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Gilbert & Sullivan Biography
William S. Gilbert (1836-1911) and Arthur S. Sullivan (1842-1900) had their first major success with HMS Pinafore in 1878, though they had already had lesser successes with Thespis (or The Gods Grown Old) in 1871, Trial by Jury in 1875 and The Sorcerer in1877.
William Schwenck Gilbert, was born at 17 Southampton Street, Strand, London on the 18th of November, 1836 and was a witty, dry and often satirical playwright and poet. He completed his education at King's College, London and trained as an artillery officer with a view to participating in the Crimean War. In 1861 or 1862 he started contributing drawings, prose and verse to the recently-established comic journal Fun.
W. S. Gilbert wrote a large number of "ballads" for the magazine using his pen-name "Bab" The “Bab Ballads” became famous on their own, as well as being a source for plots and songs for the Gilbert & Sullivan operas.
His first play was in 1863 and was called Uncle Baby, a one act comedietta played at the Lyceum Theatre. He was to write more than twenty other plays before his first collaboration with Arthur S. Sullivan in 1871.
He met his demise on 29th of May, 1911. He was giving swimming lessons to two young women in his lake at Grim's Dyke, when one of the women called out for help. Gilbert dived in to help her, but died of heart failure in the middle of the lake.
Arthur Seymour Sullivan was born in Lambeth on May 13th 1842. His father was a military bandmaster, and by the time Arthur had reached the age of eight, he was proficient with all the instruments in the band.
In 1856 he received the first Mendelssohn prize and became a student at the Royal Academy of Music until 1858. He then travelled to Leipzig where he took up conducting.
After his return to London in 1862 he produced the music to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, performed at the Crystal Palace. He then began to build a solid reputation in Britain as a composer.
In 1871, he was commissioned by John Hollingshead to work with William S. Gilbert to create the operetta Thespis for the Gaiety Theatre.
The Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration was born.
1871 - Thespis
1875 - Trial By Jury
1877 - The Sorcerer
1878 - H.M.S. Pinafore
1879 - The Pirates of Penzance
1881 - Patience
1882 - Iolanthe
1884 - Princess Ida
1885 - The Mikado
1887 - Ruddigore
1888 - The Yeomen of the Guard
1889 - The Gondoliers
1893 - Utopia Limited
1896 - The Grand Duke
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