Play a Simple Melody
Smith who was doing the libretto to write the lyrics. But Smith was no Berlin. The librettist recalled the young songwriter in his own memoir:. He is a genius in inventing unexpected rhymes. Most bards would think it hopeless to attempt to find a rhyme for "Wednesday"; but Mr. Berlin found one. In one of the songs in this piece [ Watch Your Step ], a matinee idol describes his persecution by women and alludes to the elderly worshippers who attend the afternoon performances:. There's a matinee on Wednesday, I call it my old hens' day.
Smith told the youngster: "Irving Berlin, don't let anybody ever help you with your lyrics. Irving Berlin, It is provided here for readers of this excerpt. Berlin took heed. And once he got going, he barreled ahead with a fiery energy over the summer and into the fall, turning out almost thirty new songs in various styles: rags, ballads, a polka, a waltz.
An orchestrator named Frank Sadler arranged the pieces for a twenty-piece orchestra, a breathtaking leap for a songwriter who'd previously been used to hearing his tunes played by, at most, a piano and ten, as a vaudeville orchestra was called. The show was essentially a revue, a mishmash—Berlin's score was really just a disparate collection of charming songs, and as for the libretto, the program read: "Plot if any by Harry B.
Who cared if the action shifted, with little to no explanation, from a law office to a stage door to a rural town to the Metropolitan Opera, where the angry ghost of Giuseppe Verdi appeared, berating the chorus for singing his work in syncopation? But the show's real gem, more or less buried amid the gaudy foolishness, began as a girl singer crooned plaintively,.
Won't you play a simple melody Like my mother sang to me. Oh you musical demon, Set your honey a-dreamin,'. It was an astonishing feat for a songwriter who couldn't read or write music, and therefore had no certifiable knowledge of harmony. But for Berlin, the astonishing was commonplace: as always, the harmonies were right there in his head when he needed them. The plot's implausibilities mattered little to the. What did matter was that the spectacle was fresh and new, a perfect showcase for the talents of the Castles and Berlin, but especially Berlin.
When the house lights came up, someone called, "Composer! When the composer appeared before them, the audience drew its collective breath. He looked tiny, and although he was now a twenty-six-year-old widower, he scarcely seemed out of his teens. He made a brief speech of thanks, but his words were drowned out by the roar of approval.
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Just as astonishing to Variety 's reporter was Berlin's behavior after the premiere. But instead of basking in the admiration, Berlin got in his hired car with his mother and sisters and saw them home. And then returned to his apartment with Cliff Hess to await the reviews. They were worth waiting for. Berlin "stands out like the Times building does in the Square," Variety wrote.
But, the piece went on to insist, a revue was what it was. It is really vaudeville done handsomely. He is the young master of syncopation, the gifted and industrious writer of words and music for songs that have made him rich and envied.
Won't You Play A Simple Melody chords by Irving Berlin
This is the first time that the author of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and the like has turned his attention to providing the music for an entire evening's entertainment. For it, he has written a score of his mad melodies, nearly all of them of the tickling sort, born to be caught up and whistled at every street corner, and warranted to set any roomful a-dancing. The message was mixed, but in essence it was the same as George M. Cohan's: Berlin may have moved uptown, but he was still there with the old downtown hardshell.
So what if he hadn't reinvented musical comedy? He was a vaudevillian at heart, a writer of madly hummable hits, and what was wrong with that? Dillingham's solution was to build his new musical, Stop! With less than three months to write twenty-five numbers, Berlin produced a ragtag score that seemed like an assemblage of reworked castoffs from Watch Your Step —and then there was "I Love a Piano.
But no special effect was needed to assure the immortality of the song, whose tune is sheer, ringing joy and whose lyrics are among Berlin's wittiest:. I know a fine way To treat a Steinway. So you can keep your fiddle and your bow, Give me a p-i-a-n-o, oh, oh— I love to stop right Beside an upright Or a high-toned baby grand. This is simplicity at its simplest—and of course its most complex: one shudders to think of the blood Berlin sweated to get it right.
And the lyric, if one reads between the lines as if the lines themselves weren't perfect enough , is as autobiographical in its own way as "When I Lost You": here we have intertwined the composer's insecurity and awe in the face of the many more talented keyboard artists he has encountered with his sensuous, highly metaphoric connection to the instrument that is the source of his wealth and fame.
This is a song that's every bit as erotic about the piano right down to that O, oh, oh! And a song that gives us the complete transition of the whip-smart boy who sang dirty parodies at Nigger Mike's to full-fledged artist. Hamstrung by Gaby Deslys's diva behavior, Stop! Lis ten!
Yet even as the Dillingham production was closing, a musical that had opened almost simultaneously with it was settling into a long run, and its composer was helping to create a new American art form. At thirty-one, Jerry Kern was three years older than Irving Berlin, and unlike Berlin, a refined genius rather than a primitive one, having studied piano and composition in New York and Heidelberg and having begun contributing songs to Broadway shows, and musicals in London's West End, while still in his teens.
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From a strict musical standpoint, Kern could write rings around Berlin, bringing refinement to a thirty-two-bar popular song that the younger songwriter could only dream of. As proof, there was his watershed hit "They Didn't Believe Me," a song that sounds timeless today because it was modern then. He displayed scant interest in developing the collaborative skills required by a musical. Meanwhile, down on West 39th Street, Jerry Kern was making collaborative magic. Very Good Eddie was the second of the so-called Princess Theatre plays: musicals with American settings, few scenery changes a simplicity born of necessity in the tiny theater , farcical action by Bolton, and beautiful songs by Kern.
Soon P. Wodehouse would add his romance-spoofing lyrics to the equation, and the trio would proceed to revolutionize the American musical theater with a series of shows that were matchlessly funny, sophisticated, and character-driven. In the meantime, Irving Berlin—who would not write a truly successful, truly integrated song-and-story musical until 's Annie Get Your Gun —would go his own way.
Also in the meantime, he fell in love. To all appearances, Berlin's chief romance since Dorothy's death had been with his Weser Brothers transposing piano.
He had moved from the Chatsworth, with its doleful associations, to an apartment on West 70th, where he lived, as well-to-do young bachelors of the era often did, with a couple in service, a Swedish cook and valet. Every night, the pair left at midnight and Irving repaired to the piano, tapping at the black keys and scratching out lyrics with his fountain pen until the sky began to lighten.
Now as in the early years—the early years were all of a decade ago now—his overnight hours were dedicated to work, not play. But were they really? He'd been a widower for four years; he worked in show business, where the temptations were many; he was young and magnetic and beautifully dressed and quite well off.
And both the words and the music of his songs seem to reveal, at the very least, a healthy libido. Irving Berlin and Tony Martin, But in , his output suffered markedly, both in quality and quantity: between the March closing of Stop! Berlin might have been sidetracked in May by the Friars Frolic, a charity gala in which he performed, and for which he wrote both a long, rhyming speech, and a song, "The Friars' Parade. When her husband's desertion left her destitute, Peg Talmadge got her three good-looking girls to Hollywood as fast as she could.
The oldest, Norma, the tragedian of the family, was the first to go to work in the movies; Natalie, the middle sister, turned out to have little interest in acting but would later marry Buster Keaton. Dutch, a natural comedian, quickly outshone them both, snagging a role in a very serious project: D.
Griffith's epic Intolerance.
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After Constance's contract with Griffith ran out, her mother brought her daughters back east—the movie business was bi-coastal in those days. Schenck and his younger brother Nicholas had recently joined Marcus Loew in the movie-theater business, and Joe aspired to run a studio. And here, in one beauteous twenty-two-year-old package, was his ticket.
In Norma Talmadge Joe Schenck saw both a future wife and a Galatea, a girl he could mold into a star. Trumpet and Brass Ensemble. Trumpet and Wind Band. Trumpet and Chamber Orchestra. Trumpet and Brass Quintet.
Trumpet Solo and Trumpet Ensemble. Trumpet and Percussion. Trumpet and Orchestra. Horn Solo. Horn and Piano.
Horn Duet. Horn Quartet. Horn Ensemble. Horn Methods. Horn and Brass Ensemble. Horn Trio. Trombone and Piano. Trombone Duet. Trombone Trio. Trombone Quartet. Trombone Ensemble.