Seventy six trombones led the big parade With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand They were followed by rows and rows of the finest virtuosos; The cream of every famous band. Seventy six trombones caught the morning sun With a hundred and ten cornets right behind There were more than a thousand reeds springing up like weeds, There were horns of every shape and kind There were copper bottom tympani in horse platoons Thundering, thundering, all along the way Double bell euphoniums and big bassoons Each bassoon having his big fat say There were fifty mounted cannon in the battery Thundering, thundering, louder than before Clarinets of every size and trumpeters who'd improvise A full octave higher than the score Seventy six trombones hit the counter point While a hundred and ten cornets played the air To the rhythm of 'Harch Harch Harch!' All the kids began to march And they're marching still, right today
76 TROMBONES - GOODNIGHT MY SOMEONE (REPRISE)
HAROLD While a hundred and ten cornets played the air Then I modestly took my place as the one and only bass and I oompahed up and down the square MARIAN Goodnight, my someone Goodnight, my love HAROLD With a hundred and ten cornets right behind MARIAN Our star is shining its brightest light HAROLD There were horns of every shape and... Sweet dreams be yours dear if dreams there be MARIAN While a hundred and ten cornets played the air HAROLD I wish I may and I wish I might Now goodnight, my someone, goodnight
Meredith Reiniger Willson
He learned to play the flute as a child and began playing semi-professionally while still in high school.
After graduating from high school in Mason City, he left Iowa to study at the Damrosch Institute of Musical Art (later the Julliard School), receiving flute instruction from world-class flutist Georges Barrere. While still attending the Institute, he was hired as principal flutist and piccolo player for the John Philip Sousa Band from 1921 to 1923. He then joined the New York Philharmonic Orchestra where he was first flutist from 1924 to 1929. He later moved to radio work, serving as concert director for KFRC in San Francisco and later as musical director at NBC, first in San Francisco and then Hollywood.
As a musical director and conductor, Willson is known for his work on the popular radio programs Carefree Carnival (1933-1936), Maxwell House Coffee Time (1940-19) and Tallulah Bankhead's The Big Show (1950-1953). He wrote the theme song for Maxwell House Coffee Time ("You and I") which became a number one hit. He also wrote "May the Good Lord Bless You and Keep You" as the show closer for The Big Show, and the University of Iowa fight song.
Willson composed scores for Chaplin's The Great Dictator and Hellman's The Little Foxes, as well as symphonic, band, and choral works, including The Jervis Bay: Symphonic Variations on an American Theme and Anthem of the Atomic Age. He was a Major in the U.S. Army during World War II and was the Musical Director for the Armed Forces Radio Service. Willson's song "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" was written in 1951 and made famous by Perry Como.
Meredith Willson's The Music Man opened on Broadway on December 19, 1957 and ran for 1,375 sensational performances. The cast album won the very first Grammy Award ever presented. The Music Man won eight Tony Awards with Willson winning for Best Musical Author and Best Composer and Lyricist.
In 1962, The Music Man hit the big screen, and became one of the most successful musicals ever filmed. The incomparable Robert Preston was one of the few Broadway cast members to star in the movie, and was instead joined by a stellar cast that included Shirley Jones, Buddy Hacket and a very young Ronnie Howard. An elaborate set was constructed in Hollywood for the filming.
The film premiered in Mason City in spectacular fashion. With support from the movie studio, more than 100 marching bands from throughout Iowa and across the nation participated in a four-hour parade, and Meredith Willson personally served as band leader. Many of the stars from the movie, including Preston, Jones and Howard, were also on hand for the parade and premiere celebration.
The movie was nominated for several Academy Awards, and won for Best Musical Score. Beatle Fans may remember Paul McCartney singing the love ballad "Till There Was You" (a song from The Music Man) on their 1964 album Meet The Beatles.
Willson also wrote The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which opened on Broadway in 1960 and Here's Love (a musical adaptation of Miracle on 34th Street) opened on Broadway in 1963.
As an author he published two autobiographical works (And There I Stood with My Piccolo and Eggs I Have Laid), one novel (Who Did What to Fedalia) and a memoir about the making of The Music Man (But He Doesn't Know the Territory).
Meredith Willson died in Santa Monica on June 12, 1984 at the age of 82, and was buried in his hometown of Mason City, Iowa. A museum tribute and entertainment complex dedicated to Willson were constructed in Mason City in the 1990s, and a revival of The Music Man began a run on Broadway in 2000. A television movie of The Music Man was in the works in 2002 and finished for broadcast in 2004.
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