Events & Exhibits - Fall 2011

A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs Exhibit Comes to Heritage Room

The Heritage Room will be hosting an American Library Association exhibit titled "A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs" from Friday, Sept. 9, through Sunday, Oct. 23. This traveling panel exhibit celebrates American popular song during the period 1910 to 1965. The best musical artists of the time combined a genius for melody, a talent for pairing melody with the perfect words, and an ability to connect with a wide audience. A remarkably high percentage of them were Jewish, from families that had immigrated to America in the 1800s or fled pogroms and persecution in Europe at the turn of the century. "A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910-1965" tells their story, using lively and striking images from Broadway musicals, classic films, posters and personal collections. The exhibit depicts the careers of such renowned songwriters and performers as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein and George Gershwin.
 
Berlin, a cantor’s son, had no formal music training and could play piano in only one key, but he was one of the few composers who were talented at writing both music and lyrics. Berlin’s "God Bless America," "White Christmas," and "Easter Parade" have become American anthems. Kern composed the melodies for some of the world’s most revered love songs: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "The Way You Look Tonight," and the saucy "A Fine Romance." "The King and I," "Oklahoma," and "South Pacific" are only a few of the enduring American musicals created by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Gershwin wrote jazz-inflected orchestral pieces that bridged the gap between classical and popular music. His "Rhapsody in Blue" and "An American in Paris" are still breathtaking to hear.
 
"A Fine Romance" is visiting 55 sites throughout the United States in 2011-2012. It was curated by David Lehman and developed by Nextbook, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Jewish literature, culture and ideas, and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The national tour of the exhibit has been made possible by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, an anonymous donor, and Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life. "A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs" is also a book by David Lehman, published by Nextbook/Schocken.
 
The Weinberg Memorial Library and the Schemel Forum, with the support of the Judaic Studies Program and the Friends of Weinberg Memorial Library, are sponsoring two free programs for the public in connection with the exhibit. On Thursday, Sept. 22, we will have an opening reception starting at 6 p.m. with The Swing Set performing songs from the exhibit repertoire in the Heritage Room. On Tuesday, Oct. 11, starting at 6 p.m., Ricky Ritzel, Raconteur and Cabaret Artist, presents "The Genre and its Place in American Music" in story and song.
 
Contact Michael Knies at 941-6341, Michael.Knies@Scranton.edu or visit http://matrix.scranton.edu/academics/wml/spcollections/exhibits.shtml for more information. "A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs" will be on display until Sunday, Oct. 23.
Jewish Songwriters
CREDIT: The composers and leading ladies of South Pacific. Courtesy of Photofest.
Richard Rodgers (left) and Oscar Hammerstein with, from left, Mary Martin, Janet Blair, and Martha Wright, all leading ladies of South Pacific. Courtesy of Photofest. The greatest Rogers and Hammerstein collaboration may have been South Pacific, which wsa the hottest ticket when it opened on Broadway in 1949 with opera singer Ezio Pinza and theatre legend Mary Martin as the leads.
 
 
 
Michael Knies
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition