If you’re familiar with the work of Robert Russell Bennett, you’re almost certainly familiar with the work he did using the tunes and melodies of other composers. And if you have any love of American musical theater of the 20th century, then you’re almost certainly familiar with the work of Robert Russell Bennett, and you may not even realize it! Bennett was largely known for his work as an arranger and orchestrator for many of the great Broadway shows of the classic era of American musical theater. Look at the fine print of many of those albums and you’ll see something along the lines of “Arrangements by Robert Russell Bennett” or “Orchestrations by Russell Bennett”.
Bennett also arranged many fine orchestral suites of Broadway music, which have become staples in the repertoire of Pops orchestras all over the world. Bennett’s suites are almost always fine compositions in their own right, with Bennett giving a lot of thought to the melodies and how they should sound in a purely orchestral setting. The suites are more than worth listening to on their own, proving that dramatic music does not always need to be heard in its original context to be effective.
Here is the Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture by Robert Russell Bennett. Enjoy!