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.
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.
I cannot believe that the same man who composed “The Age of Anxiety” composed this plain and direct but utterly wonderful Tin-Pan-Alleyesque tune. Betty Comden and Adolph Green penned the lyrics. That’s, omigod, Frederica von Stade, with famous Leutonian composer John Williams at the piano. At Tanglewood, 1988, for the “Bernstein at 70!” bash.
Remember what it was like to go to a closing night cast party? When it gets really late and the booze is almost gone and the coke is certainly gone but no one’s tired and no one’s ready to go home? And then around three a.m. what’s left of the chorus crowds around the piano and sings songs like “I Enjoy Being a Girl” and “A Boy Like That” with cheesy accents—only they’re all guys? Well, imagine my surprise to find Lin-Manuel Miranda and Raul Esparza re-enact what I thought was just a bourbon-induced hallucination of my early womanhood.