The Magic Maker

A Portrait of John Langstaff, Creator of the Christmas Revels
About a year before his death, Langstaff asked Cooper to help him write a book about how his childhood experiences with music led to his involvement in musical theater. Though the project never got off the ground, she decided to write it for him. Raised in a family who hosted annual Christmas carol parties, Langstaff was sent to a choir boarding school at the age of seven, where he quickly became a star soloist. After serving in World War II, he began a career as a well-known children's music teacher and authored several books of children's songs. Langstaff had a tremendous respect for the value of tradition and ritual in music, and in 1971 he and his daughter, Carol, created the first Christmas Revels, performances that combine traditional music, dance, and drama with audience participation. The well-researched narrative contains many quotes from primary sources such as Langstaff's letters and interviews with his family and associates (unfortunately, there are no source notes or index). Readers will finish this book feeling as though they have come to know the man who "was not so much a teacher as a missionary."—Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

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