John McGlinn

John McGlinn
Born (1953-09-18)September 18, 1953
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Died February 14, 2009(2009-02-14) (aged 55)
New York City
Cause of death Heart attack

John Alexander McGlinn III (September 18, 1953 February 14, 2009) was an American conductor and musical theatre archivist. He was one of the principal proponents of authentic studio cast recordings of Broadway musicals, using original orchestrations and vocal arrangements.


John Alexander McGlinn III was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. A self-taught pianist, he studied music theory and composition at Northwestern University, graduating in 1976.[1]

His first recording, 1984's Songs of New York for the Book of the Month Club was not his first experience as a conductor. He had previously conducted Hey Feller! and Misery's Come Round, using Karla Burns and members of the Houston Grand Opera production of Show Boat, for one of the "Jerome Kern Revisiteds" for Ben Bagley's Painted Smiles Records. He had previously worked for the New York City Opera and planned a book on Jerome Kern. McGlinn's interest in Kern emerged at the same time as a 1970s' revival of interest in authentic American music, including a Scott Joplin revival and Gunther Schuller's ragtime performances. In the early 1980s he joined with the Houston Grand Opera to work on a major revival of Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's Show Boat, acting as musical editor and restoring the original orchestrations for the production.[1] He also did some work for Ira Gershwin on original orchestrations for several Gershwin projects and worked with veteran orchestrator Hans Spialek on the 1983 Broadway revival of On Your Toes. Following the Book of the Month Club recording, McGlinn performed three Kern musicals in concert at the Carnegie Recital Hall and this success led to a recording contract with EMI-Angel Records. The first recordings were an album of George Gershwin songs with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and a program of Gershwin overtures.

From 1987 to 1992 he made recordings of the complete scores for Show Boat, Anything Goes, Brigadoon, Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss Me, Kate, and an obscure Jerome Kern musical, Sitting Pretty.

The three-disc, three-and-a-half hour Show Boat album was highly acclaimed, and the one-disc Anything Goes album, was acclaimed by some, but panned by others.[2][3][4][5] The New Yorker magazine called McGlinn's Show Boat "the show album of the past" and "a show album for the future.[6] It unites the possibilities of reproduction and reinvestigation." McGlinn unearthed the lost materials for Show Boat in a Secaucus, New Jersey, warehouse in 1982.[4]

In 1992 EMI chose not to renew his contract. During this period he conducted many performances of musicals in concert, including the original 1925 No, No, Nanette (at the Carnegie Recital Hall), and the Kern-Hammerstein show Sunny. He made several radio appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for BBC Radio 3, conducted several concerts in conjunction with the Library of Congress Music Division, and was guest conductor on an "Evening With The Boston Pops" telecast. He returned to the recording studio to make two albums of excerpts from Wagner operas for Naxos Records. At the New York City Opera he conducted revivals of Brigadoon and H.M.S. Pinafore and, in 1993, at Juilliard School of Music, he conducted the Poulenc one-act operas La Voix Humaine and Les Mamelles de Tiresias.

Another project, begun in early 2001, was to record and edit for The Packard Humanities Institute scholarly editions of Victor Herbert and Jerome Kern musicals, but none of these albums have been released.[1] McGlinn left the project in 2002 and the future of the recordings remains in limbo.[7]

His last project was to edit a new edition of the 1954 Broadway version of Peter Pan for Samuel French.[1]

McGlinn was found dead in his New York City apartment on February 14, 2009. The cause of death was a heart attack. He is survived by two sisters and a brother.[1][8]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Grimes, William (February 19, 2009). "John McGlinn, 55, Restorer of Musicals, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-19. John McGlinn, a conductor and musical historian who delved deep into neglected archives to recreate musicals like 'Show Boat,' 'Anything Goes' and 'No, No, Nanette' in their original form, died on Saturday at home in Manhattan. He was 55.
  4. 1 2 Reich, Howard (September 18, 1988). "Back on Course". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-19. The EMI set of three compact discs, to be released nationally next week, is not simply a sensitively performed account of America's most famous musical, "Show Boat." It also happens to represent formidable detective work by McGlinn, who turned up nearly an hour's worth of music assumed lost since the musical first bowed in 1927. The newly discovered music reveals the show to be a considerably more pioneering work than had been previously understood, as well as a more dark and complex piece than any number of frothy revivals would have us believe. "When I first saw the lost music to 'Show Boat,' it was the most unbelievable moment of my life," says McGlinn, referring primarily to scores unearthed in a Secaucus, N.J., warehouse in 1982 (the Warner Bros. warehouse also yielded vintage scores by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and others). "After years of reading and dreaming about what this music must be like, finally to have it in my hands was an overwhelming sensation."
  5. Reich, Howard (November 16, 1989). "Everything 'Anything' John McGlinn restores luster to a Cole Porter gem.". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-19. When conductor John McGlinn released his definitive recording of Jerome Kern's "Show Boat" (on EMI) last year, he found himself quickly transformed from aspiring artist to rising star.
  6. "Centennial". The New Yorker. March 25, 1985. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
  7. Babes in Neverland: Peter Filichia's Diary on
  8. John McGlinn, Conductor & Musical Archivist Passes Away
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