NYFOS is celebrating our co-founder Steven Blier this week! In honor of his birthday on November 25, each Song of the Day post this week will be a tribute to him. Happy Birthday, Steve! We hope you enjoy these and have a wonderful week!
Today’s post comes from Steve’s former student and NYFOS artist Hal Cazalet:
My song of the week for Steve is “Till The Clouds Roll By”, music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by P G Wodehouse from the 1917 Broadway musical Oh Boy!
“The Schubert of the American Song” – Steve Blier describing Jerome Kern.
Happy birthday to you, my dear Mr Blier. I wanted to send you a birthday tune I know is close to both of us and that I hope makes your day even more beautiful.
There is something quite wonderful about the impression this music has on our sophisticated ears nearly 100 years on. There seems a bygone innocence in the style and manner, a simple truth in the melody, naivety in the lyric, yet for all its lighthearted charm and fun, there seems something inexplicably moving in its effect. Music that goes to the heart is rather rare in stage musicals today, but it seems the great inaugurators of the American musical, Guy Bolton, Jerome Kern and P G Wodehouse, had the ability to connect with the emotions of their audience without ever seeming to make an effort.
Oh Boy! was one of the Princess Musicals and notably, made a name of Beatrice Lillie who took the roll of Jackie in London production in 1919 following the Broadway transfer. The plot is full of the usual Wodehouse/Bolton antics – Polo Players, a character described as ‘a Dandy’, a befuddled leading man trying to elope with the girl while avoiding her Quaker aunt. All wonderful stuff that is a perfect tonic in the uncertain world we live in today. Strange, and yet heartening to think that when America joined WW1 in April 1917, Oh Boy! was on Broadway and would continue its run for most of that year – just think of the comfort it must have given to the New York spirit back then. George Orwell described the fanciful world of the Princess Musicals as ‘The Garden of Eden’, a haven of escape, delight and joy. I hope, SB, that your day is jam packed with all three. I suppose all honest music moves us because it needs no where to hide.
Happy birthday old horse,
I am sending 2 versions. The first is the John McGlinn recording and the second is the original which is so wonderfully audacious!