Meredith Willson …And Then I Wrote The Music Man.


On December 19, 1957, Meredith Willson’s classic Broadway hit – The Music Man – opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. This musical tribute to his home state of Iowa became an immediate hit, running for a marathon 1,375 performances, and to this day, the show has never stopped running – appearing on musical stages literally all over the world.

Many people don’t realize the intriguing story behind the writing of The Music Man – which took Meredith and his wife Rini nearly six long years (1951-1957) – daily laboring over the story, putting it all to music, and finally, getting the project “sold” to those on Broadway who had the power & influence to make it all happen. Did you know, for example, the first working version of Meredith’s musical show was entitled – The Silver Triangle?

In 1959, G.P. Putnam published Meredith’s third biographical book, entitled “But He Doesn’t Know The Territory”, an intriguing and highly entertaining look at how Rini and he did just that – writing The Music Man – one of Broadway’s biggest all-time hits!

(BM-006) – 1959 – G.P. Putnam – This one is a must read for those who want to know the “behind-the-scenes” story of how Meredith went from his successful radio career – which ended in 1952 – to writing The Music Man – which premiered at The Majestic Theatre on Broadway on December 19, 1957. Every chapter is a gem as Meredith gives the details on how very difficult it was to piece together his Mason City childhood stories – many times through trial and error – into what eventually became his masterpiece – The Music Man. Read more here.

Along with the 1959 book – But He Doesn’t Know The Territory – this long-play (33 1/3 LP) Record Album (above left) was released by Capitol Records. This very rare recording features Meredith Willson at the piano, informally commenting on The Music Man, telling its story, and singing some of the songs, along with his wife Rini. The recording recreates the backer’s audition Meredith and Rini presented to producer Kermit Bloomgarden (December 1956) – which effectively secured Willson’s musical production for the Broadway stage in 1957.

Since the album is pretty difficult to find, now-a-days, we’ve recorded our copy and are sharing it with you here. ENJOY!

Side One
Side Two

Following the release of this amazing LP album in 1959, Meredith and Rini Willson embarked on a 20-city tour of the United States, recreating the story of The Music Man in talk and song. As we mentioned earlier, the album release also coincided with the publication of Meredith Willson’s third autobiography- But He Doesn’t Know The Territory.

Click here to read the full story about The Music Man’s love song – Till There Was You.

Thanks Meredith & Rini – this recording truly gives us a taste of The Music Man, as you first created it! May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You!

DYK-February 24, 2023
Kudos to Tyler Brinegar, Senior Producer & Director at Iowa PBS – who used one of our rare B&W photos in his February 2023 Iowa PBS production on Iowa’s very own Meredith Willson. Click here for more!

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