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Richardson, Claibe
Richardson, Claibe

Composer Claibe (Claiborne) Richardson was born in Lufkin, Texas on November 10th, 1929 and educated at Louisiana State University. Richardson's career began in the early 1950s with songs he contributed to Ben Bagley's SHOESTRING REVUE; Julius Monk's UPSTAIRS AT THE DOWNSTAIRS and PLAZA 9 revues; and WHAT A DAY, a revue starring Celeste Holm and Ronnie Graham. His 1964 New York World's Fair score for THE BRIGHTEST SHOW ON EARTH was conducted and arranged by Robert Russell Bennett, his mentor and the man responsible for Richardson's first publishing contract with Chappell Music.

His most notable score was composed for THE GRASS HARP a musical version of Truman Capote's novella with book and lyrics by long time collaborator Kenward Elmslie and direction by Ellis Rabb, which starred Barbara Cook and Karen Morrow. The 1971 Broadway production survived for only one week, but the subsequent original cast recording, a CBS Camera Three TV presentation and two off-Broadway revivals helped to ensure the show its longstanding cult status. Cook's recording of "Chain Of Love" from this score is included in the Metropolitan Opera Guild's ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF THE AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATRE.

Other Broadway credits include incidental scores for the 1978 Broadway revival of THE ROYAL FAMILY starring Rosemary Harris and Eva Le Gallienne (also directed by Rabb), a revival of THE PHILIDELPHIA STORY starring Blyth Danner and the premier of William Alfred's THE CURSE OF AN ACHING HEART starring Faye Dunaway and directed by Gerald Gutierrez. Several of Richardson's other scores, including LOLA (book and lyrics by Elmslie), BODONI COUNTY and CONGO SQUARE (book and lyrics by Frank Gagliano) and THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and GROSSINGER'S (book and lyrics by Stephen Cole) have been recorded and have received off-Broadway and regional productions.

Richardson also provided music and lyrics for TV and radio commercials as well as scores for industrial shows and films. His final composition, a suite based on his score forTHE GRASS HARP was premiered by Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall just three months before he died in New York City on January 5, 2003.

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      In 1971, THE GRASS HARP premiered at New York's Martin Beck Theatre.