You are the promised kiss of springtime
That makes the lonely winter seem long.
You are the breathless hush of evening
That trembles on the brink of a lovely song.
You are the angel glow that lights a star,
The dearest things I know are what you are.
(The great saxophonist/composer Charlie Parker thought this was the most beautiful passage ever written.)
Some day my happy arms will hold you,
And some day I’ll know that moment divine,
When all the things you are, are mine.
More from that Kitty Carlisle-hosted 1993 TV special: The most beautiful song ever written sung in the classiest concert in the world. (Well, it’s the NY Philharmonic, right?) Orchestration by Robert Russell Bennett. Milton Babbitt, that champion of musical theater and Stephen Sondheim’s teacher, wrote an analysis of this song having to do with tritones and inverted fifths which I was never able to understand, but I don’t think it’s important. You’re welcome to take a crack at it here.
I’m about to blog about Kitty Carlisle Hart and thought this 1993 clip from PBS might be a nice way to introduce her. Conductor is American musical theater archivist John McGlinn, who died in 2009 at too young an age (55). Also featured in this program are Judy Kaye (On the Twentieth Century) and Rebecca Luker (The Sound of Music, 1998 Broadway revival). Thanks to McGlinn, this is the original Hans Spialek orchestration from the 1937 show Babes in Arms. I’ve always preferred Rodgers & Hart to Rodgers & Hammerstein; this was one of my audition pieces. (Starts at 46:30.)
Shimmying commences at 4:00.
The indication “burlesque strip style” was actually written on the music right around this point. Both Ramin and Ginzler cut their teeth writing swing arrangements; lead trumpet in the original Gypsy pit was Dick Perry, late of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Solo trumpet Matt Lovatt here gets it down perfectly. Some people obviously know something about burlycue.
After my good luck in finding “The Trolley Song” 42 days ago I started combing the net for more great performances of show tunes to rip from the net for my personal library—and found this, the Overture to Gypsy. Watching it, at around the 4:00 mark I was struck by a lightning bolt.
Almost immediately I took out of a dusty drawer the libretto I’d written for a composer I’d loved (now dead of AIDS) years and years ago. Then I went out and bought Piston’s Harmony, Third Edition.
Composer Jule Styne, by the way, was pleased with this orchestration. Also, the sound of Broadway changed for good.
Co-composer Blaine once said that he’d been glancing at a book he’d found at the Beverly Hills Public Library, landed on a page about early streetcars captioned “Clang, Clang, Clang, Went the Trolley”, and bang was off to the races.
Orchestrator for this song—as well as the entire MGM Judy Garland musical Meet Me in St Louis—was Conrad Salinger. As producer Hugh Fordin wrote:
Salinger’s arrangement was a masterpiece. It conveyed all the colour, the motion, the excitement that was eventually going to be seen on the screen. With the remaining numbers and the background scoring for this film as well as all the work he was to do thereafter, Salinger always maintained sonority and texture in his writing, which made his a very special sound and style that has never been equalled in the American movie musical.
Orchestrator/arranger/conductor Jack Campey pointed to this clip highlighting Salinger’s orchestration, sans vocals. Thanks, Jack.
Oh when will I find you
And where will we meet
My gentle young Johnny
So steady and sweet
Oh when will you come for me
When will you take me away
You’ll see what I am
And you’ll know what I’ve done
And yet when you love me
You’ll be the first one
My gentle young Johnny
Shall we be married today…
Orchestration is by Irwin Kostal of Sound of Music fame, and who I should be blogging more about, as Kostal’s the first orchestrator I was ever aware of. This is an unusual melody, uniquely arranged, and would make a great audition piece.
How long ago has it been, only nine months? So I don’t think he’s totally forgotten about it yet. If I could actually sit down with John over a bo’le a’broon and be assured of some kind of honest answer, there are two questions I’d ask him:
1) How old were you when you first heard Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in its entirety and what were the circumstances?
2) What in the name of God possessed you to use the original, unchanged 1943 Robert Russell Bennett orchestration for a staged concert of Oklahoma in a venue seating over 5500 people???
William David Brohn, a protegee of Robert Russell Bennett, died last Thursday at the grand old age of 84—another long-lived orchestrator whose contributions to music deserve more recognition and praise.
His ear work on Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky score impresses the hell out of me.
[From Wikipedia] At the time the Brohn version was written, Prokofiev’s original manuscripts of the film score were unavailable for study. Brohn transcribed the score, using the orchestration of the cantata as a model. Music not present in the cantata was transcribed by ear from the film. With special attention paid to tempos a 1993 recording of this version was matched to a new edition of the film, which was released in 1995. Although the Brohn version is not technically the film score as composed by Prokofiev, it is a brilliantly successful substitute for the original soundtrack for live performances by a full symphony orchestra accompanying showings of the film. There is little in the arrangement that is not by Prokofiev. However, it is more accurate to say that this arrangement is a “hybrid” of the film score and the cantata, allowing the audience the opportunity to enjoy the film score cues using the expanded sound values of the cantata.