Researching the life and music of Rudolf Friml for the new book was (and remains) a journey filled with many fine surprises and memories. Among these was the December day spent in the archives of the Prague Conservatory, where Friml had been a student. The archivists were most helpful, but one of the greatest pleasures was seeing the fresh blanket of snow that had fallen while I was in the archive.
I also had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Kay Friml, widow of the composer, and hear her speak about Rudolf. Being able to work with materials in Friml’s Hollywood home before they were transferred to the UCLA Music Library’s Special Collections was an extraordinary singular experience. I spent two days sitting at Friml’s dining room table perusing over his unpublished works. Every time I looked up the first thing I saw was the youthful portrait by Vladimir Samberk (reproduced on p. 8 in the book) looming over me, Friml’s eyes keeping a close watch.
As part of the research for the book, I attended Ohio Light Opera’s productions of The Vagabond King and Rose Marie. It was extremely gratifying to see Friml’s work on stage. More recently, I was surprisedâ€”and thrilledâ€”to learn that the Antonin Dvorak Theatre in Ostrava, Czech Republic (Friml’s homeland) is mounting a Czech-language production of The Three Musketeers from December 2008 through June 2009. I’m planning to attend!