Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) wrote music in many forms but is best known for his series of operatic collaborations with the dramatist W. S. Gilbert, including such enduring works as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. He was also known as a composer of hymns, the best known of which is “Onward Christian Soldiers.” In 1856, Sullivan at age 14 was awarded the Mendelssohn Scholarship, which granted him training at the Leipzig academy founded by the famous composer. One aspect of Sullivan’s genius is that so much of his music is instantly likable, even by those not schooled in classical music, yet at the same time it is deep and enduring. He was trained in Mendelssohn’s ideas and techniques but was also influenced by a variety of musical styles, including Schubert, Verdi, Bach, and Wagner.  In 1879, Sullivan suggested to a reporter from The New York Times the secret of his success with Gilbert: “His ideas are as suggestive for music as they are quaint and laughable. His numbers … always give me musical ideas.”

Performance of Sullivan’s Ruddigore with Kara Comparetto at the Concord Community Music School on October 14th 2013