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What is probably the most famous pairing in musical history began without fanfare in 1871 when writer William S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan teamed up to produce a Christmas entertainment called Thespis. The two men parted ways soon afterward and it took a theatrical promoter named Richard DOyly Carter to reunite them four years later. Their first big hit came in 1878 with their operetta H.M.S. Pinafore. It reached the United States the following year and created the same excitement that we associate with a major rock concert or blockbuster movie. Despite some disagreements, the two men produced 11 other operettas before going their separate ways. Today Gilbert and Sullivan societies exist all over the world. Audiences still enjoy their combination of clever, humorous lyrics and tuneful melodies.