About Prelude #2:
Published in 1927, the work was first performed by George Gershwin in a concert at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York City. A challenge to play, it doesn’t fit easily under the fingers because of large note spans, and it requires a tasteful amount of tempo rubato of a bluesy, moody character.
Part of a three Prelude set, the composition is framed by the more spirited #1 and #3.
1) The opening ostinato or repeated bass pattern starts with a 10th that is a large span for many pianists.
At least in the beginning, where there are introductory measures without the treble line yet entering, the bass can be divided between the hands as I demonstrated in the video.
2) Capturing an improvised, bluesy character throughout this composition is a challenge. I find that singing the melodic line before I play it, helps me to shape phrases. Translated to the level of the arms, wrist, and fingers, I think of a delayed entry into certain notes.
3) Hearing more than one voice is necessary, (the chromatic meandering) and on the second page where the melody is scored in octaves, a middle voice should be noted.
4) The crossed-hand middle section must have a fleshed out, bluesy bass line. (Some pianists choose not to cross hands)
5) The way Gershwin scored this piece, it is rather awkward to play, so you do the best you can.
Play Through: (divided hands in opening to avoid broken 10ths)
With broken 10ths:
Published by arioso7: Shirley Kirsten
International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirley kirsten Contact me at: email@example.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches View all posts by arioso7: Shirley Kirsten
"Summertime" is an aria composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 operaPorgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin by ASCAP.
The song soon became a popular and much recorded jazz standard, described as "without doubt ... one of the finest songs the composer ever wrote ... Gershwin's highly evocative writing brilliantly mixes elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century". Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has characterized Heyward's lyrics for "Summertime" and "My Man's Gone Now" as "the best lyrics in the musical theater". The song is recognized as among the most covered songs in the history of recorded music, with more than 33,000 covers by groups and solo performers.
Porgy and Bess
Gershwin began composing the song in December 1933, attempting to create his own spiritual in the style of the African American folk music of the period. Gershwin had completed setting DuBose Heyward's poem to music by February 1934, and spent the next 20 months completing and orchestrating the score of the opera.
The song is sung several times throughout Porgy and Bess. Its lyrics are the first words heard in act 1 of the opera, following the communal "wa-do-wa". It is sung by Clara as a lullaby. The song theme is reprised soon after as counterpoint to the crapsgame scene, in act 2 in a reprise by Clara, and in act 3 by Bess, singing to Clara's now-orphaned baby after both its parents died in the storm. It was recorded for the first time by Abbie Mitchell on July 19, 1935, with George Gershwin playing the piano and conducting the orchestra (on: George Gershwin Conducts Excerpts from Porgy & Bess, Mark 56 667).
The 1959 movie version of the musical featured Loulie Jean Norman singing the song. That rendition finished at #52 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.
Heyward's inspiration for the lyrics was the southern folk spiritual-lullaby "All My Trials", of which he had Clara sing a snippet in his play Porgy. The lyrics have been highly praised by Stephen Sondheim. Writing of the opening line, he says
That "and" is worth a great deal of attention. I would write "Summertime when" but that "and" sets up a tone, a whole poetic tone, not to mention a whole kind of diction that is going to be used in the play; an informal, uneducated diction and a stream of consciousness, as in many of the songs like "My Man's Gone Now". It's the exact right word, and that word is worth its weight in gold. "Summertime when the livin' is easy" is a boring line compared to "Summertime and". The choices of "ands" [and] "buts" become almost traumatic as you are writing a lyric – or should, anyway – because each one weighs so much.
Musicologist K. J. McElrath wrote of the song:
Gershwin was remarkably successful in his intent to have this sound like a folk song. This is reinforced by his extensive use of the pentatonic scale (C–D–E–G–A) in the context of the A minor tonality and a slow-moving harmonic progression that suggests a “blues”. Because of these factors, this tune has been a favorite of jazz performers for decades and can be done in a variety of tempos and styles.
While in his own description, Gershwin did not use any previously composed spirituals in his opera, Summertime is often considered an adaptation of the African American spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child", which ended the play version of Porgy. Alternatively, the song has been proposed as an amalgamation of that spiritual and the Ukrainian Yiddish lullaby Pipi-pipipee. The Ukrainian-Canadian composer and singer Alexis Kochan has suggested that some part of Gershwin's inspiration may have come from having heard the Ukrainian lullaby "Oi Khodyt Son Kolo Vikon" ("A Dream Passes by the Windows") at a New York City performance by Alexander Koshetz's Ukrainian National Chorus in 1929 (or 1926).
The song's hook may pull from Rachmaninoff's Barcarolle, Op. 10, No. 3.
There are over 25,000 recordings of "Summertime". In September 1936, a recording by Billie Holiday was the first to hit the US pop charts, reaching no. 12. Other versions to make the pop charts include those by Sam Cooke (US no. 81, 1957), Al Martino (UK no. 49, 1960), The Marcels (US no. 78, 1961), Ricky Nelson (US no. 89, 1962), and the Chris Columbo Quintet (US no. 93, 1963). The most commercially successful version was by Billy Stewart, who reached no. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, and no. 7 on the R&B chart in 1966; his version reached no. 39 in the UK and no. 13 in Canada. Janis Joplin's version with Big Brother and the Holding Company has been highly praised. David Starkey in his article "Summertime" says that Joplin sings the song "with the authority of a very old spirit". In Britain, a version by the Fun Boy Three reached no. 18 on the UK Singles Chart in 1982.
- ^"Summertime" at ASCAPArchived 2006-02-11 at the Wayback Machine.
- ^"Description of song by Robert Cummings at Allmusic.com". Answers.com. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
- ^"A Century of Creativity: DuBose and Dorothy Heyward". Loc.gov. 1926-08-02. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
- ^"The Summertime Connection". Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- ^Pollack, Howard (2006). George Gershwin: His Life and Work. University of California Press. p. 589. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
- ^Hyland, William (2003). George Gershwin: A New Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 171. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
- ^ abc""Summertime" at". Jazzstandards.com. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
- ^Edward Jablonski, Lawrence Delbert Stewart, The Gershwin years: George and Ira, Da Capo Press, 1996, ISBN 0-306-80739-4, p. 202
- ^ abJeffrey Paul Melnick, A Right to Sing the Blues, Harvard University Press 1999, ISBN 0-674-76976-7, pp. 129–133
- ^Joanne Lesley Gordon, Art Isn't Easy: The Achievement of Stephen Sondheim, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, IL., 1990, p. 13
- ^Samuel A. Floyd Jr., ed. (1990). Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance: A Collection of Essays. New York: Westport. ISBN 0-313-26546-1. , p. 22
- ^Rosenberg, Deena (1991). Fascinating Rhythm: The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin. Penguin Books USA. ISBN 0-525-93356-5. , p. 281
- ^Jack Gottlieb, 'Funny, it doesn't sound Jewish, SUNY Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8444-1130-2, pp. 42–43. The author displays the three songs aligned to each other.
- ^Helen Smindak Dateline New York: Kochan and Kytasty delve deeply into musical past, The Ukrainian Weekly, 24 May 1998
- ^"Rachmaninoff Barcarolle Op.10 No.3". Youtube.
- ^Joe Nocera (January 21, 2012). "Variations on an Explosive Theme". The New York Times.
- ^Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 914. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- ^Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952–2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 497. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
- ^Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–1995. Record Research. p. 421.
- ^Betts, p. 747
- ^Paul Friedlander, Rock and Roll: A Social History, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1996. p. 207.
- ^Maury Dean, Rock and Roll: Gold Rush, Algora, New York, 2003, p. 248.
- ^David Starkey, Living Blue in the Red States, University of Nebraska Press, 2007, p. 326
- ^Betts, p. 302