Andre Previn plays Harold Arlen

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Andre Previn plays Harold Arlen

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Name:Andre Previn plays Harold Arlen

Total Size: 210.17 MB

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Torrent added: 2009-08-24 01:08:21

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Arlen, Harold [Arluck, Hyman]

(b Buffalo, NY, 15 Feb 1905; d New York, 23 April 1986). American composer. The son of a cantor, he sang in the choir at his father’s synagogue as a child, and at the age of 15 played the piano in local movie houses and on excursion boats on Lake Erie. Smitten by the new and distinctively American popular music of the post-World War I period, he organized his own band, the Snappy Trio, and later joined another which (as the Buffalodians) went to New York in the mid-1920s. He made some band arrangements for Fletcher Henderson but worked mostly as a pianist and singer on radio, in theatre pit orchestras and in dance bands; he recorded as a singer with Benny Goodman, Red Nichols and Joe Venuti. In 1929 he began a songwriting collaboration with the lyricist Ted Koehler and achieved his first success with the song ‘Get Happy’, which appeared in the 9:15 Revue (1930). From 1930 to 1934 the two men went on to write several memorable songs for a series of revues at Harlem’ Cotton Club, a cabaret that featured black entertainment for white audiences, including ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ and ‘Stormy Weather’. Such songs blended the forms and idioms of Tin Pan Alley with blues and jazz-based inflections, and through their commercial success helped to popularize the sounds of black music among a wider audience. During this period he also provided songs for numerous Broadway productions, including ‘I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues’ and ‘It’s Only a Paper Moon’, and cemented his resolve to pursue a songwriting career.

In 1934 Arlen composed his last important Broadway revue, Life Begins at 8:40, and began to write for Hollywood films. During the next two decades he created a body of significant songs with the lyricists Johnny Mercer, Ira Gershwin and E.Y. Harburg, including ‘Over the Rainbow’ (1939; lyricist, Harburg) and ‘The Man that Got Away’ (1954; lyricist, Gershwin), both for the singer Judy Garland. Unlike many Hollywood composers in a period when the studio system prevailed, Arlen managed to preserve a strong musical identity. Many of his film songs also place an emphasis on the functions of narrative and character rather than on sheer spectacle and dance; The Wizard of Oz (1939, the film for which Arlen’s work is best remembered, is among the earliest film musicals to attempt to integrate the use of song into the development of character and plot.

From 1941 to 1945 in Hollywood, Arlen also worked closely with Mercer on developing such boldly jazz-influenced songs as ‘Blues in the Night’, ‘That Old Black Magic’, ‘One for my Baby’ and ‘Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive’. In the mid-1940s he turned his attention to the theatre once again, this time providing songs for ‘book’ musicals. Of his five subsequent Broadway shows House of Flowers (1954), written with Truman Capote, is considered by many his most distinguished score. While Arlen’s contributions remained of a consistently high level (for example ‘Right as the Rain’ and ‘I Never has Seen Snow’), most of these shows were marred by serious weaknesses in their librettos or productions.

Arlen’s style shows an affinity with African-American musical expression, and many of his shows were written directly for black performers (the Cotton Club revues, St. Louis Woman and its later expansion as the ‘blues opera’ Free and Easy, House of Flowers, and Jamaica), while others deal with themes relating to the lives and concerns of African Americans (Bloomer Girl and Saratoga). Much of his songwriting was influenced by the blues, most often in the form of blue melodic or harmonic inflections applied to the traditional song structure (‘Stormy Weather’), but also more radically in an attempt to incorporate the blues structure itself into a new expanded form of popular song (‘Blues in the Night’). Arlen frequently broke the mould of a 32-bar, AABA popular song form to write melodies both unconventional in length and asymmetrical in their phrase and sectional make-up. He extended the traditional eight-bar section of a song from ten bars (‘Ill Wind’) to 20 bars (‘Out of this World’).

As a songwriter, Arlen belongs with the handful of composers most responsible for the brilliant flowering of American popular song that occurred in the second quarter of the 20th century. Much in his output reflected the popular mood in America during the Great Depression and World War II; and, while most of his later songs did not have a similar cultural resonance, the best of them remain among the most exquisite examples of musical craft and invention within the popular domain.

‘Arlen, Harold’, CBY 1955

E. Jablonski: Harold Arlen: Happy with the Blues (Garden City, NY, 1961/R) [incl. list of works]

A. Wilder: American Popular Song: the Great Innovators, 1900–1950 (New York, 1972)

A. Harmetz: The Making of the Wizard of Oz (New York, 1977)

J. Haskins: The Cotton Club (New York, 1977)

H. Meyerson and E. Harburg: Who put the Rainbow in ‘The Wizard of Oz’? (Ann Arbor, 1993)

A. Forte: The American Popular Ballad of the Golden Era, 1924–1950 (Princeton, NJ, 1995), 209–36

E. Jablonski: Harold Arlen: Rhythm, Rainbows, and Blues (Boston, 1996)

Previn, André (George) [Andreas Ludwig Priwin]
(b Berlin, 6 April 1929).

American composer and conductor. He studied at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, at the Paris Conservatoire, and with Castelnuovo-Tedesco in Los Angeles. At the age of 17 he began work as an arranger for films, at the same time establishing himself as a progressive jazz pianist. He has continued to compose film scores, though since the mid-1960s he has been more active as a conductor, notably with the London Symphony Orchestra (1968–75), the Pittsburgh Symphony (1976–84), and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1985–92). His more ambitious compositions, which include a symphony (1962), have generally been written for friends or for special occasions, and reflect his enthusiasms for American popular music and late Romantic gesture. In this style he also wrote an opera, A Streetcar Named Desire (San Francisco, 1998).

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