"But He Doesn't Know the Territory"

The Story behind Meredith Willson’s The Music Man

2020
Author:

Meredith Willson
Foreword by Michael Feinstein

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Chronicles the creation of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man—reprinted now as the Broadway Edition

Now featuring a new foreword by noted singer and educator Michael Feinstein, Meredith Willson’s whimsical, personable writing style brings readers back in time with him to the 1950s to experience firsthand the exciting trials and tribulations of creating a Broadway masterpiece.

This is the first-person perspective of a deeply canny and meticulous chronicler who managed to preserve the creative process as if it were spontaneously happening, catching the mundane moments and details that illuminate and humanize the story. The moment-to-moment ups and downs, ins and outs, and subtly shifting creative process that careen forward like a roller coaster all somehow make sense, and those details illustrate in most vivid terms what it feels like to solve a puzzle for which you’re not certain you have all the pieces.

Michael Feinstein, from the Foreword

Composer Meredith Willson described The Music Man as “an Iowan’s attempt to pay tribute to his home state.” Now featuring a new foreword by noted singer and educator Michael Feinstein, this book presents Willson’s reflections on the ups and downs, surprises and disappointments, and finally successes of making one of America’s most popular musicals. Willson’s whimsical, personable writing style brings readers back in time with him to the 1950s to experience firsthand the exciting trials and tribulations of creating a Broadway masterpiece. Fresh admiration of the musical—and the man behind the music—is sure to result.

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Meredith Willson (1902–1984) was a renowned composer, songwriter, and musician. He is best known for Meredith Willson’s The Music Man and composing the music for The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Michael Feinstein is a Grammy-nominated entertainer and educator. He is founder of the Great American Songbook Foundation and author of The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs.
Book Default Image

This is the first-person perspective of a deeply canny and meticulous chronicler who managed to preserve the creative process as if it were spontaneously happening, catching the mundane moments and details that illuminate and humanize the story. The moment-to-moment ups and downs, ins and outs, and subtly shifting creative process that careen forward like a roller coaster all somehow make sense, and those details illustrate in most vivid terms what it feels like to solve a puzzle for which you’re not certain you have all the pieces.

Michael Feinstein, from the Foreword

Dollars to doughnuts, Meredith Willson dotes on brass bands. In The Music Man, he has translated the thump and razzle-dazzle of brass-band lore into a warm and genial cartoon of American life.

Brooks Atkinson, New York Times, 1957