NOEL COWARD AT LAS VEGAS
The following introduction was written by Goddard Lieberson for Noel Coward At Las Yegas, (Recorded on Columbia ML 5063), the first of what is to be a series of records recorded at the celebrated spas,nerve centers and watering places of the world.
 
Mr. Noel Coward has not yet, as far as I know, made any contribution to the science of nuclear physics. Indeed, this is one of the few remaining fields of endeavour in which Mr. Coward has not exercised his talents, but I am quite sure that all of us would have a much more cheerful feeling about the atomic age if he had.

It is senseless to attempt to give any biographical data on Noel Coward. He was born and apparently began at once to write plays, compose songs, sing, act, dance and possibly began to write his autobiographies. But all of this, of course, did not (to continue in an atomic mood) explode in this one person without a proper detonation; which was, of course, the remarkably fluid and receptive English stage. Nor is it right to assume that Mr. Coward sprang forth out of a void. Quite the contrary. His background (I do not speak of his familial background) represents an extremely rich Mélange consisting, in part at least, of such splendid influences as the plays of Oscar Wilde, the tradition of the English music halls, the writing of George Moore, Max Beerbohm, Shaw, and Jane Austen, and above all, the extremely rich tapestry of the total British psyche. And though Mr. Coward is certainly unique, and stands alone on the pillars of his talents, he is nonetheless buttressed by this elaborate set of tradition and influences.

This uniqueness of Mr. Coward's is, to me, his greatest glory. It derives chiefly, of an ability which is not merely agility, as is so often thought, but rather the product of an innate sense of perception combined with an entirely uninhibited gift for expression. He has, through the years, made certain little philosophical discoveries which stand him in good stead: for instance, that suavity can be shocking, or that lucidity is the ultimate insanity, just as insanity is the ultimate lucidity. He also knows, with pinpoint accuracy, the most vulnerable spot of any hypocritical situation. Even in his songs, which are our chief concern at this moment, all of these qualities are exhibited, with the addition of that soothing, saving, balm, genuine sentiment. For with all of the crackling, electric, sophisticated output of Mr. Coward, he does have, sentimental though it may seem, what we are told these days we must all have a "lot" of - (or were when this was first written) - heart. It is this, in fact, which is his most endearing quality, whether his public recognizes it or not; and, in fact, his ability to prevent his public from recognizing this quality while enjoying it is yet another of his talents.

Finally, Mr. Coward must be proclaimed, hurrayed and celebrated as "the great professional." He possesses, more than any other artist I know, that indestructible quality of knowing his job so well that even the smallest detail is polished to its full potential, In a Coward performance, nothing goes unrealized, and much becomes alive which with another performer might remain moribund. While I have heard many things said about Noel Coward during the years that I have known him, never has it been said that he was boring. In this mechanical age of largesse, where ennui can reach gigantic proportions, could anything finer be said of a creative and performing artist?

 Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001