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    Raposo, Joe (8 February 1937 – 5 February 1989)

    Actor, arranger, conductor, keyboardist and singer-songwriter from Fall River, Massachusetts, who attended Harvard college and wrote music for Hasty Pudding.  He also studied in Paris, France, under the watchful eye of Nadia Boulanger. 

     

    In the 1960s, he dickered around in musical theatre and piano bars until Jonathan Schwartz urged him to move to the Big Apple.  It was here he met Jim Henson, who recruited him to write songs for the children’s TV program, Sesame Street, including “Bein’ Green”, “Sing” and the famous theme song.  Joe worked on the show in various capacities from 1969 to 1974 and from 1984 to 1989.  From 1971 to 1977, he appeared on and composed music for The Electric Company, another brainchild of the Children’s Television Workshop.  For the first three of those years, he also acted as music director. 

     

    In 1973, Frank Sinatra included four of Joe’s compositions on his comeback LP, Ol’ Blue Eyes is Back.  He continued to work in television and film in the 1970s, writing the theme song for Three’s Company and music for a cartoon feature entitled Raggedy Ann & Andy:  A Musical Adventure.  It would later become a stage musical—perhaps foretelling a trend—with the help of playwright William Gibson.  In 1986, it enjoyed some modest success on Broadway.  It also had the distinction of being the first U.S. theatrical production to open behind The Iron Curtain. 

     

    In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Joe worked on a series of Dr. Seuss specials, including The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, Halloween is Grinch Night, and Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?.  Not only did he write music for these short films, but frequently he would provide voice-overs for the different characters.  In 1981, he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song for “The First Time it Happens”, which was featured in The Great Muppet Caper. 

     

    He spent the bulk of the ‘80s working in television, although he found time to write music for a stage adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life, in tandem with Fiddler on the Roof scribe, Sheldon Harnick.  The show debuted in 1986 at the University of Michigan.  In 1991, it would enjoy some success on the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. 

     

    Unfortunately, Joe would not live to see the D.C. production.  On 5th February 1989, he died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  His musical legacy, however, lives on, in the ubiquitous Sesame Street theme song, and in sheet-music form.  Aspiring composers will be pleased to know that fifteen of his songs have been published in the Joe Raposo Songbook.  Other manuscripts have been enshrined in the Georgetown University Library in Washington, D.C.

     

    The Oscar Peterson Trio and The Singers Unlimited recordings

    Sesame Street (Bruce Hart/Joe Raposo/Jon Stone)

     

    Sources:

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Raposo
    2. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0710809/
    3. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/a/item.html?id=69435&item=2912623
    4. http://www.yelp.com/biz/georgetown-university-library-washington

         

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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