Searching through the debris and detritus of the television schedules for the second week in January I came across a jewel sparkling in the rubbish.  On BBC4, “Sound of  Musicals with Neil Brand” a complete compendium of delights with the songs of Jerome Kern, Ira and George Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein’s Showboat and Alan Jay Learner and Frederick  Loewe’s My Fair Lady.  This is my kind of music.  

The celebrated New Yorker critic, Adam Gopnik puts it like this;

“— the almost incredible wealth and beauty of American popular music-from the blues, and Tin Pan Alley to jazz, R and B., country,rock and roll, and on to hip, hop and of its strange snaking unity.  The great critic Kenneth Tynan once wrote that sometime in the nineteen thirties, the ‘serious’ music tradition finally withered, curled up and died”, and what took its place was American song.”

Brand explains how musical theatre changed in the 1920s from review style shows with music provided at intervals to a story told in music where the songs were an integral part of the drama.  The first of these was Jerome Kern’s ‘Showboat’, which included the song,”Ol Man River” and “Can’t Help Lovin Dat Man of Mine “.

I absolutely enjoyed this programme.


3 thoughts on “POETRY AND MUSIC.

  1. These were mostly Jewish. Instead of Jewish from Egypt, the lucky ones came to America. Imagine! Alive – young – free! Their thoughts, their thanks, their ideas from thousands of years – now in America! So, instead of Holy Land and hiding in their own area, they got together to make Music. To show young, happy Americans working, on the farms and putting up more homes for the future. Music came out of new hearts with gratitude for their God who had shown their new home. And those Jews who had amazingly come to America were so filled with thanks to America they wrote music and stories and America loved it all!

  2. Thank you jollyweez, their words and music had such immediate appeal. Its inspiring how human beings can adapt to a new country, new culture and a new language. Years ago I learnt a little French and Latin, aujourd’hui only the odd phrase sticks in my mind. I’m always fascinated by the different ways the English language can be used, its so wonderfully flexible. Music is a closed book to me except its appeal is so powerful.

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