Primitive man probably imitated animal sounds for both practical and religious reasons. More recently, the Baroque-era composer Heinrich Franz von Biber imitated one particular animal for comic effect.
The music is Biber’s “Sonata Representing Animals,” and, in early 20th century slang, it’s simply “the cat’s meow.”
Now, most cats are supposed to have nine lives, but would you believe 8,949?
On today’s date in 1981, “Cats,” a new musical by the British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber opened at the New London Theatre in that city’s fashionable West End.
Despite a bomb threat and brief evacuation of the theatre, the premiere of “Cats” was a great success. 8,949 performances later, on the same date in 2002, when the show finally closed, it had long since entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running musical to date.
In London, the show took in 136 million British pounds in ticket sales and was seen by over eight million people. Worldwide, “Cats” has taken in excess of 2 billion dollars and has been seen by over 50 million people.
“Cats” has been performed in 11 different languages in over 300 cities in 26 countries. “Memory,” the hit song from the musical, has had nearly 53,000 plays on radio and television in the UK alone, and airplays in the US passed the 1 million total in 1988 and the 2 million in 1998.
Music Played in Today's Program
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644 – 1704)Sonata violino solo representativaIl Giardino Armonico; Giovanni Antonini, cond.Teldec 21464
Andrew Lloyd Webber (b. 1948)Cats OvertureOriginal Broadway Cast orchestraGeffen 22031