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Gilbert and Sullivan were among the most successful collaborators in all music Their British operettas are enjoyed for their satirical wit comic plots and characters and tuneful music William Schwenk Gilbert b Nov 18 1836 d May 29 1911 wrote drama criticism verse and stage pieces before working with Sullivan as well as being a contributor to the satiric magazine Fun for which he wrote verses later collected as the famous Bab Ballads Arthur Seymour Sullivan b May 13 1842 d Nov 22 1900 a bandmasters son began his musical training as a choirboy He later studied at the London Royal Academy and in Leipzig Even before collaborating with Gilbert he had composed prolifically hymns cantatas oratorios piano pieces songs and orchestral works and was a favorite of Queen Victoria Sullivans early ventures into comic opera with writer F C Burnand resulted in Cox and Box and The Contrabandista in 1867 But his work with Gilbert brought out the best in each man from Gilbert a waggish wit and pungent satire from Sullivan an almost inexhaustible lyricism and a perfectly matched musical wit Their first collaboration Thespis or the Gods Grown Old 1871 was so unsuccessful that only two pieces of music from the score have survived Trial by Jury 1875 though not a hit at first was unusual in being a one-act operetta without spoken dialogue and was originally produced as a curtain-raiser for a work by the French composer Offenbach The Sorcerer 1877 began their public acclaim as well as their association with Richard DOyly Cartes company which was organized for their productions and was in continuous existence until the early 1980s H M S Pinafore 1878 caused a worldwide mania Before Gilbert and Sullivan could produce an official version in the United States there were a dozen pirate productions running simultaneously in the New York alone To thwart the American copyright pirates they produced their next work appropriately called The Pirates of
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