About Michael
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     Raised in New Jersey in the shadow of Broadway, Michael Lasser is a lecturer, writer, broadcaster, critic, and teacher. Growing up “with Manhattan on my left and the Jersey Shore on my right,” he saw his first Broadway musical at the age of ten.  “I can’t imagine my life without the theater and its songs,” he says.

     He is the author City Songs and American Life, 1900-1950, published in 2019, as well as  America’s Songs II: Songs from the 1890s to the Post-War Years (2006), a companion to his and Philip Furia’s America’s Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. A look at more than 500 classic American songs, these books illuminate the ways in which the great songs of the American Songbook meld words and music, sentiment and wit, into a seamless whole. They also trace the process of collaboration, the give-and-take between composer and lyricist that results in a finished song.

      The songs in these books are the basis for his nationally syndicated public radio program, Fascinatin’ Rhythm, winner of a 1994 Peabody Award for letting “our treasury of popular tunes speak (and sing) for itself with sparkling commentary tracing the contributions of the composers and performers to American society.” The weekly program explores the history and themes of American popular music through a series of “radio essays” illustrated by recordings. Since September 1989, it has been heard on as many as 120 stations from Orlando to San Francisco to Honolulu.

      For 25 years, Lasser was also the theater critic for The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and a member of the Speaker’s Bureau of the New York Council for the Humanities. He has spoken at universities and art and history museums in 38 states and the District of Columbia, and also appears with two singers in cabaret-style performances enhanced by his knowledge of the songwriters and their songs, and his insight into how these songs amuse us and stir our emotions.

     He has taught the history of the Broadway musical at colleges and universities, and has been a free-lance writer for a wide range of national magazines.  He was also a major contributor to the standard work, American Song Lyricists, 1920-1960, and in 2010, he was named a Thomas P. Johnson Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Rollins College. He has also taught at Rutgers University, St. John Fisher College, and Fairleigh-Dickinson University.

     He is a graduate of Dartmouth College, holds an M.A. from Brooklyn College, and did additional graduate work at Rutgers University.  He is married and has two grown children and one grandchild.

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