Today's post is from our friend, John Eaton.
I am honored and delighted to be back at Wolf Trap to offer my course on the great American song writers. It's a four week class held at the Center for Education and we've still got some slots available if you're interested in broadening your knowledge on this musical era.
This year's featured composers are all superstars.
We will open on Monday evening, October 3rd with Jerome Kern, the man we call, "The Master." Kern, along with Irving Berlin, was responsible for creating the American Popular Song in the early years of the 20th century. His glorious melodies ("All the Things You Are," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes") though rooted in the European operetta tradition were unmistakably American. This combination inspired and set the gold standard for the celebrated writers who were to follow, among them Richard Rodgers, Vincent Youmans and George Gershwin.
Cole Porter, whose work we will feature on October 17th, was more a protégé of Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern. It was Berlin's example that Porter credits for teaching him how to write songs, both words and music.
Justly famous for his superb comic lyrics as well as his romantic ones, Porter's melodies alone ("Night and Day," "Begin the Beguine") probe human emotions - passionately and profoundly.
George Gershwin, American Hero is the title for our third presentation on October 24th. It is impossible to overestimate the influence Gershwin's music had and still has not only on American music, but on music world wide.
His concert works, notably "Porgy and Bess," and "Rhapsody in Blue," remain milestones in 20th Century music. And then there are his timeless show tunes ("I Got Rhythm," "Someone to Watch Over Me," and "Of Thee I Sing.")
Being primarily an improvising player (though not, alas, a composer) I have decided to devote the final session on October 31st to a discussion of the fascinating differences and surprising similarities between these two types of musical expression.
I will take requests and within the obvious legal limits, turn the lecture hall into a jazz piano bar for an hour or so, each week.
I hope to see you on October 3rd.