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Gilbert and Sullivan

the composer-lyricist team responsible for some of the most popular operattas in the history of the English theater

Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan Sir William Schwenck Gilbert

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (1836-1911) and Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan (1842-1900) collaborated on 14 operettas, including H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado. Gilbert wrote the lyrics for all of their operettas, and Sullivan composed the music. Their collaboration lasted from 1871 to 1896. Although both men had careers independent of each other, they will likely always be best known for the works they produced as a team.

Gilbert and Sullivan's first operetta, Thespis, was only moderately successful. They gained popularity with their second work, Trial by Jury, which was produced by Richard D'Oyly Carte. D'Oyly Carte also produced the other 12 Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and formed a company to perform the team's works. The D'Oyly Carte Company still performs the operettas today.

There was so much gaiety in their operettas that it is hard to believe that Gilbert and Sullivan did not enjoy working together. Gilbert had a sharp, biting wit and Sullivan had a sensitive nature, and these differences often led to severe quarrels between the two men. The quarreling finally split the team.

some of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular operettas

Gilbert and Sullivan Works

Most of Gilbert and Sullivan's works are light-hearted satires on Victorian behavior and the British Empire.

Thespis; or The Gods Grown Old (1871)
Trial by Jury (1875)
The Sorcerer (1877)
H.M.S. Pinafore (1878)
The Pirates of Penzance; or The Slave of Duty (1879)
Patience; or Bunthorne's Bride (1881)
Iolanthe; or The Peer and the Peri (1882)
Princess Ida; or Castle Adamant (1884)
The Mikado; or The Town of Titipu (1885)
Ruddigore (1887)
The Yeomen of the Guard (1888)
The Gondoliers (1889)
Utopia Limited (1893)
Grande Duke (1896)


The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive

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The Robinson Library >> Composers and Songwriters

This page was last updated on 10/17/2018.