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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Jules Edwards, Composer for ‘Music Man,’ ‘Hello, Dolly’

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Mr. Edwards would be the first to call himself a composer, and his music could easily have crept up on an audience without its knowing that he was the composer. Through contrapuntal work, conjurer’s caprices, eccentric time signatures and evocations of life in the early 20th century, “Songs for the Film Set” are pitched at a specific mood and none of the lyricism is derived from one-dimensional crooning.

“It’s not to say it’s complicated in its techniques, but just to try to make something that blends the forms together,” he said in a telephone interview.

Mr. Edwards was a composer for 25 years, a set designer for 25 more, and a conductor for the 20 years after.

He was born in Brooklyn and attended Brooklyn High School of Music & Art and the American Music College, and he formed a chamber group, the Society for Performing Arts, with R. Mutchnick.

The group, formed in 1957, was a fixture of the city’s downtown musical life for two decades and featured such notables as the composer Ira Gershwin, the violinist Edward Polochick and the pianist F.I. McGowan.

Among its productions were “All About Eve,” “Cabaret” and the Cole Porter musical “Kiss Me Kate.”

Mr. Edwards’ next engagement was on Broadway, where he directed “The Music Man,” a musical first staged in 1955 that marked the composing career of Meredith Willson, the literary name of the wife of “Little Shop of Horrors” producer Joseph Papp.

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