Arthur Sullivan

Top Songs & Albums Arthur Sullivan


... read moreBritish composer Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) is remembered for the operettas he wrote with librettist W.S. Gilbert, the best known of which are The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore, and The Gondoliers, which are notable both for their humor and the sophistication of the interplay...

Key songs

Arthur Sullivan
The Pirates Of Penzance: Act I: "I Am The Ver Model"
Arthur Sullivan
The Pirates Of Penzance: Act Ii: "Oh Frederic"
Arthur Sullivan
The Pirates Of Penzance: Act Ii: "Now For The Pirates' Lair"
Arthur Sullivan
The Pirates Of Penzance: Act Ii: "With Catlike Tread"
Arthur Sullivan
The Pirates Of Penzance: Act Ii: "Then Frederic"


Country Of origin: England
Member of: Gilbert & Sullivan

The works of Gilbert and Sullivan remain as charming asides for genuine amusement even a century later; however, Arthur Sullivan led a life that was independent of W.S. Gilbert, and, fortunately or not, their relationship was never social. Sullivan began his musical venture as a member of the Chapel Royal. He was a chorister. Receiving instruction from Helmore and publishing his first sacred song "O Israel" in 1855, Sullivan was also the first recipient of the Mendelssohn scholarship from the Royal Academy of Music. While pursuing studies there he was a pupil of Bennett O'leary and Goss. Later, 1858-1861, he attended Leipzig Conservatory where he was able to study counterpoint and fugue with Hauptmann, composition with Reitz, conducting with David, piano with Moscheles and Plaidy. Fellow students at Leipzig included Grieg and Rosa. By 1861 he had written incidental music for "The Tempest" which was performed that year. During the 1860s many of Sullivan's concert works were composed and performed including the oratorio "The Prodigal Son." He also became an organist at Covent Garden. The first operetta that Sullivan composed was "Cox and Box" which received its premiere in 1866. Sullivan composed the hymn tune for what became "Onward Christian Soldiers" and the year 1883 yielded the serious cantatas "The Golden Legend" and "The Martyr of Antioch." His larger works were usually characterized by scorings for large orchestras. 1869 may be considered an important year in Sullivan's career for this is when he was introduced to W.S. Gilbert. Among the works resulting from their collaborative efforts were "The Sorcerer," 1877, "H.M.S. Pinafore," 1878, "The Pirates of Penzance," 1880, "Patience," 1881, "The Mikado," 1885, and "The Gondoliers," 1889. Known for his techniques of characterization, patter songs, unexpected rhythms, lively choruses, ability to contrast male and female melodies, using a tonic pedal for the patter songs, and employing occasional second melodies in the accompaniment, Sullivan's ability to score can be considered limited but within the range of these limitations he was uniquely talented. He had a penchant for writing music for wind instruments and often writing pizzicato parts for stringed instruments. ~ Keith Johnson~ Rovi