Sullivan was an operetta composer in partnership with W.S.Gilbert. His works contain a wealth of good tunes, but the political satire is now dated. They continue to remain
immensely popular nonetheless.
Sullivan was born in London,
in 1842, and
studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and at Leipzig. He became a church
organist, and wrote many hymns, still in use today. In 1866 he became Professor
of Composition at the Royal Academy. He met playright William Gilbert (1836 - 1911) in 1871. Gilbert had been a journalist and drama critic for various London periodicals. Their
collaboration was a huge commercial success. The series of comic operettas they wrote together made their partnership a household name, as in 'Gilbert & Sullivan', usually abbreviated to 'G & S'. London's Savoy Theatre was actually built in 1881 to house the Gilbert & Sullivan productions.
Sullivan himself wanted to be known
as a more serious composer, but his other works are not heard much these days. In his day he was a distinguished composer and conductor, producing many serious works including chamber music, operas and symphonic music.
G&S operettas include The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance,
Iolanthe, The Yeomen of the Guard, and The Gondoliers.