Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Richard Rodgers

This prologue to the Richard Rodgers musical about an unsavory carnival barker and his homespun girlfriend initially lays out a dissonant woodwind theme over dour string chords, at once evoking a carnival calliope and suggesting the more sinister elements of the plot to come. Soon, however, the music begins to build into a traditional waltz. The main melody is quick and extroverted, but continually dips into minor-mode realms. An extended second main section employs more conventional waltz material that would have suited a 1950s commercial for major kitchen appliances. The primary theme eventually returns, now with its disquieting harmonic elements smoothed out, and gives way in the final bars to the happy second tune. Thus, over the course of a very few minutes, Rodgers has moved easily from disturbing music suitable for the classical concert hall to Broadway optimism, setting up the uneasy duality of the show that follows.