Thomas Baker (musician)

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Thomas Baker was a nineteenth-century composer and musical producer.

A violinist, Baker came to the United States from England with the orchestra of Louis Antoine Jullien in 1853. His first Broadway production, Novelty, opened at Laura Keene's Variety House on February 22, 1856.

In 1861, Baker published the first "sheet-music publication of any black spiritual", Song of the Contrabands.[1] His efforts were later criticized as betraying a lack of knowledge of black music, for having "turned the slave song into a parlor ballad in 6/8 time".[2]

He was credited with writing the music for the 1866 stage production, The Black Crook, which premiered at Niblo's Garden in New York City, using a melodrama and a French ballet troupe whose venue burnt to the ground while they still rehearsed. The "result was an unprecedented triumph", and was one of the major events in the early history of the extravaganza.[3] The production "is frequently cited as the first real precursor to the twentieth-century musical".[4]

Baker also arranged musical productions of Cinderella and Aladdin.[5] The last play for which he arranged and directed the music was titled "Diplomacy", and was produced April 1, 1878.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crawford, pgs. 413–415
  2. ^ Richard Crawford, America's musical life: a history (2001), p. 413-15.
  3. ^ Chase, pg. 360
  4. ^ William A. Everett, Paul R. Laird, The Cambridge Companion to the Musical (2008), p. 18.
  5. ^ a b Internet Broadway Database page on Thomas Baker
  • Crawford, Richard (2001). America's Musical Life: A History. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-04810-1. 
  • Chase, Gilbert (2000). America's Music: From the Pilgrims to the Present. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-00454-X. 

External links[edit]