Life in the Pits: A Trumpeter’s Life in New York’s Musical Theater
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Pit musicians have fallen through the cracks of musical theater scholarship. In all my research, I have yet to come across any sources that thoroughly examine musical theater from the perspective of the musicians who perform in its orchestras day in and day out. Thus, this thesis documents Richard (Dick) R. Smith's life as a professional musician living and working--in vaudeville and on Broadway--in midcentury New York City. Smith might be relatively unknown, but he played a significant role in a variety of musical contexts. By understanding his life, we gain valuable insight into histories that have only focused on the experiences and achievements of actors, bandleaders, composers, orchestrators, and conductors, among others. Examining Smith's experiences also help us understand something about the hundreds, if not thousands, of similarly anonymous pit musicians whose talents and hard work made New York City's vibrant musical life possible.