Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Great "Tunesmiths" - Minus Schubert...

The art of the song came into full bloom by way of a seventeen year-old wonder named Franz Schubert, and he wrote some 600 of them in a brief life. The golden age of the Lied(song) was born in Europe.
These songs were, mainly, narratives cast into a musical format, and some were truly lengthy, as they were stories, requiring many pages of music.
Another form of song, most being about two pages, came into being, primarily in America, reaching its golden age in mid-20th century. Composers such as Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer and a host of others lovingly called "tunesmiths" produced a plethora of singular tunes.
I would consider the melodies of Schubert as "beautiful" - the tunes that the tunesmiths produced were, in my view, "pretty." Obviously, these were two different worlds of song.
I cite the age of the American composers, primarily because their music, like Schubert's, remains long after the passing of these writers - the period during the Second World War was redolent with singularly attractive and enduring melodies, many of which are still with us today.
Look into such songs as "Moonlight in Vermont;" "Skylark;" "I'll Never Smile Again;" "My Funny Valentine;" "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square;" "I Had the Craziest Dream;" "Yesterdays;" then listen to the songs of George Gershwin. Do take note of the beauty of these melodies, so many of them created by composers of no or little formal training - it was one of America's notable contributions to the world of music by way of great melody writing, let alone the accompanying lyrics that catapulted the music into immortality, such as the wonderful treatment that Ira, George Gershwin's brother, imparted to the music.
There is no comparing the genius of Schubert with these tunesmiths' incarnations; that's an example of "apples and oranges" - however, in terms of pure melody writing, the tunes that were written the better part of a century ago stand on their own, with the countless recordings available to us as verification.

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