The Evolution of the Original Cast Album

George Reddick

in The Oxford Handbook of The American Musical

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385946
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Evolution of the Original Cast Album


The article provides detailed information on the emergence of the original cast album. Decca's 1943 cast recording of the original Broadway production of Oklahoma!, is often cited as the first original Broadway cast album. Although many recordings of Broadway material appeared before Oklahoma!, but they largely consisted of songs recorded by studio singers rather than by cast members of stage productions, and usually with different arrangements and different orchestras. Columbia introduced a technological innovation in 1948 that had been in development in different forms for years. The long-playing (LP) record could hold over twenty minutes on each side, allowing an entire cast album to fit on one record. The vinyl material used for the LP was also more durable and provided better sound than the old 78s. Jazz artists were able to capture the elusive and ephemeral nature of a long improvised set in a format that anyone could revisit after that one single performance. Lengthy classical works that had previously existed in complete form only in a concert hall could now be heard in their entirety in one manageable set of LPs. Cast recordings were considered to be the ideal product for the LP. The approximate forty-five minute playing time of an LP perfectly reflected the average amount of music in a two-act musical.

Keywords: cast recording; Broadway production; long-playing record; jazz performance; symphony performance; Hollywood films

Article.  7236 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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