Arthur Sullivan

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Biography

Born: May 13, 1842; London, England   Died: November 22, 1900; London, England  
Known in his own time for his serious music as well as for the comic operas that have survived until our own day, English composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan was born in Lambeth, South London; the son of a bandmaster, he was encouraged to pursue his musical talent from an early age. He learned the wind instruments of his father's band and joined the choir of the Chapel Royal. At 14, he won the Mendelssohn Scholarship at the Royal Academy, and in Read more 1858 he went to study in Leipzig, where his teachers included Ignaz Moscheles and Julius Rietz.

In 1861, Sullivan began to make an impact on the London music scene. His music to Shakespeare's The Tempest was performed at the Crystal Palace winter concerts in 1862; the following year he published six Shakespeare songs. In 1864, Sullivan became the organist at Covent Garden, where his ballet L'île enchantée had its premiere.

In 1867, he collaborated with F.C. Burnand on two operettas, Cox and Box and The Contrabandista. Five years later, he worked for the first time with W.S. Gilbert when they jointly created the light opera Thespis for the Gaiety Theatre. The piece was moderately successful, but not enough for its creators to continue working together immediately. In 1875, however, the theater manager Richard D'Oyly Carte reunited the to compose an afterpiece for a production of Offenbach's La Périchole. The result was Trial By Jury, a brief satire of the judicial process, featuring Sullivan's brother, Fred, in the lead. The afterpiece proved so successful that this time the partnership continued. In 1877, their full-length opera The Sorcerer premiered under Carte's auspices at the Opera Comique, followed by H.M.S. Pinafore in 1878. Pinafore proved wildly popular, solidifying a three-way partnership of Sullivan, Gilbert, and Carte that resulted in eight more operettas before a quarrel broke up the team. After a reconciliation, Gilbert and Sullivan wrote two more operas, Utopia Ltd. (1893) and The Grand Duke (1896), but these failed to catch on and the partnership ended permanently. During the run of Patience (1881), Carte moved his company from the Opera Comique to the Savoy; from then on, Gilbert and Sullivan's operas became collectively known as Savoy Operas. In these operas, Sullivan's unerring sense of musical parody, with targets ranging from Handel to Verdi, perfectly matched Gilbert's witty social satire.

While Sullivan is known today for his partnership with Gilbert, he was active in other compositional forms throughout his career. One of his best known compositions in his day was The Lost Chord (1877), a song to a text by Adelaide Proctor written at the time of Fred Sullivan's untimely death. Sullivan was acclaimed for his oratorios, including The Prodigal Son (1869), and hymns, of which "Onward, Christian Soldiers" (1871) was and remains particularly popular. An "Irish" Symphony in E minor is sometimes still performed. Sullivan also composed operettas with librettists other than Gilbert; these include Haddon Hall (1892) with Sydney Grundy and The Rose of Persia (1900) with Basil Hood. In 1883, Queen Victoria rewarded Sullivan for his contributions to English music with a knighthood.

Sullivan's dearest ambition was to compose grand opera. Carte, wishing to establish an English opera tradition, built the English Opera House, and here Sullivan's opera Ivanhoe, to a libretto by Julian Sturgis, premiered in 1891. The opera failed and remained Sullivan's only attempt at grand opera.

Sullivan never married, but in the 1860s or 1870s he met Mary Frances (Fanny) Ronalds, an American-born woman separated from her husband who eventually settled in London. Mrs. Ronalds, who mixed in the same aristocratic and artistic circles as Sullivan, never divorced her husband but carried on a discreet relationship with Sullivan until his death in London on November 22, 1900. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 186 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Family Connections / Rothschild, Marineau
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: NI6395 Release Date: 11/01/2019   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Reynaldo Hahn,  Louis Spohr  ... 
    Performer:  Charlotte de Rothschild,  Malcolm Martineau
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  • 2.
    Live from the Revels Stage
    Label: Revels Records   Catalog: REVCD2019 Release Date: 10/18/2019   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Arthur Sullivan,  Traditional,  Ewan MacColl  ... 
    Performer:  David Coffin,  Louis Killen,  John Langstaff,  Megan Henderson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Revels Chorus,  Tapestry Ensemble
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  • 3.
    John Kitchen Plays British Light Music
    Label: Delphian   Catalog: 34212 Release Date: 02/08/2019   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan,  Michael Thomson
    Performer:  John Kitchen
    CD: $19.99
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  • 4.
    Old Fashioned / Mulligan, Rutenberg
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9507 Release Date: 01/04/2019   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Guy d' Hardelot,  Oley Speaks,  Sandor Harmati,  Frank E Tours  ... 
    Performer:  Brian Mulligan,  Craig Rutenberg
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  • 5.
    Songs of Experience / Heurard, Ensemble Perspectives
    Label: Outnote   Catalog: 702 Release Date: 09/22/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Bowie,  John Tavener,  Arthur Sullivan,  André Caplet  ... 
    Conductor:  Geoffroy Heurard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Perspectives
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  • 6.
    Louis Fremaux Icon: Complete Birmingham Years
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 560476 Release Date: 04/21/2017   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Jules Massenet,  Georges Bizet,  Edouard Lalo  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Frémaux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Sullivan: Songs / Norris, Riches, Johnson, Bevan
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10935 Release Date: 03/17/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Mary Bevan,  David Owen Norris,  Ben Johnson,  Ashley Riches
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  • 8.
    Sullivan: Pineapple Poll / Mackerras, Sargent
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1320 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Arthur Sullivan
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    CD: $11.99
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  • 9.
    Super Audio Collection, Vol. 9
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 553 Release Date: 07/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Claude Debussy,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Katherine Bryan,  Ingrid Fliter,  Elizabeth Watts,  Cecilia Bernardini  ... 
    Conductor:  Jac Van Steen,  Antonio Mendez,  Robin Ticciati,  Christian Baldini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dunedin Consort,  Scottish Ensemble
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  • 10.
    Gilbert & Sullivan: H.M.S. Pinafore / Egarr, Scottish Opera
    Label: Imports   Catalog: 522 Release Date: 06/10/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Gavan Ring,  John Mark Ainsley,  Tim Brooke-taylor,  Neal Davies  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Egarr
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Opera Orchestra,  Scottish Opera Chorus
    CD: $19.99
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  • 11.
    Timeless: Wind Band Dances & Other Concert Favorites / BYU Wind Symphony
    Label: Byu Records   Catalog: 116 Release Date: 03/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ryan Nowlin,  Joseph Wilcox Jenkins,  Dmitri Kabalevsky,  Arthur Sullivan  ... 
    Conductor:  Donald Peterson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BYU Wind Symphony
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  • 12.
    I Heard You Singing / Ben Johnson, James Baillieu
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 9032 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edward German,  Ivy Mason Whipp,  Eric Coates,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Ben Johnson,  James Baillieu
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  • 13.
    Mercury Living Presence - The Collector's Edition Vol 3
    Label: Mercury Living Presence   Catalog: 002275902 Release Date: 03/23/2015   Number of Discs: 53
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Lehár,  Emil Waldteufel,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Rafael Druian,  Georges Miquelle,  Eugene List,  Alfred Mouledous  ... 
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Frederick Fennell,  Anatole Fistoulari  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Hungarica  ... 
    CD: $262.49
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  • 14.
    Occident Meets Orient
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1532 Release Date: 01/06/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sigmund Romberg,  Robert Schumann,  Ottorino Respighi,  George W. Chadwick  ... 
    Performer:  Carole FitzPatrick,  Robert Barefield,  Russell Ryan
    CD: $16.99
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  • 15.
    Christmas In Oxford / John Harper, Choir Of Magdalen College Oxford
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1290 Release Date: 11/03/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Anonymous,  Anthony Milner,  Thomas Ravenscroft  ... 
    Conductor:  John Harper
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
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  • 16.
    From Parlour To Palace: Victorian Music From The Christmas Revels
    Label: Revels Records   Catalog: 2014 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Emlen,  Traditional,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Frederick Shrival  ... 
    Performer:  David Coffin,  Megan Henderson,  Billy Meleady,  Sarah deLima  ... 
    Conductor:  George Emlen
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  • 17.
    The Embassy Label: Classic Musicals & Light Opera
    Label: Acrobat Music   Catalog: 3114 Release Date: 10/07/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Lehár,  Sigmund Romberg,  Rudolf Friml,  Arthur Sullivan  ... 
    Performer:  Estelle Valery,  Andy Cole,  John Cameron,  Lissa Gray
    Conductor:  John Gregory,  Serge Lamont,  Gordon Franks,  William Llewellyn
    CD: $15.99
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  • 18.
    Label: Cala Records   Catalog: 77016 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Benjamin Britten,  Arthur Sullivan  ... 
    Performer:  Sue Addison,  Sally Goodworth,  Frances Kelly,  Emily White  ... 
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 19.
    Overtures from the British Isles / Gamba
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10797 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Samuel Coleridge-Taylor,  Frederic H. Cowen,  Granville Bantock  ... 
    Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
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  • 20.
    Gilbert & Sullivan: H.M.S. Pinafore / Gilbert, Ohio Light Opera
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1459 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Stefan Gordon,  Natalie Ballenger,  Stephen Faulk,  Ted Christopher  ... 
    Conductor:  J. Lynn Thompson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ohio Light Opera Chorus,  Ohio Light Opera Orchestra
    CD: $35.99
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  • 21.
    Sullivan: The Beauty Stone / Opie, Gadd, Macdonald
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10794 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Alan Opie,  Richard Suart,  Elin Manahan Thomas,  David Stout  ... 
    Conductor:  Rory Macdonald
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales,  BBC National Chorus of Wales
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    CD: $37.49
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  • 22.
    Pipe Dreams - Music For Flute / Anna Pope, Nancy Ruffer, Helen Crayford
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 7390 Release Date: 08/13/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emil Kronke,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Albert Franz Doppler,  Antal Doráti  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Pope,  Nancy Ruffer,  Helen Crayford
    CD: $11.99
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  • 23.
    H.m.s. Pin
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1088 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
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  • 24.
    Sir Malcolm Sargent: An Evening At The Proms
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2393 Release Date: 04/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Recorded Sound,  Arthur Sullivan,  Antonín Dvorák,  Emmanuel Chabrier  ... 
    Performer:  Shura Cherkassky,  Dame Joan Hammond
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent
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  • 25.
    Wie Einst In Schoner'n Tagen / Cathy Berberian
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 123152 Release Date: 04/02/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Popper,  Philipp Eulenberg,  Carl Loewe,  Anton Rubinstein  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Boettcher,  Bruno Canino,  Cathy Berberian,  Karlheinz Zöller
    CD: $17.99
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