Category Archives: rodgers and hart

You Are Too Beautiful
Revisiting the Rodgers and Hart Classic

I must confess to you that I had absolutely no recollection of arranging, playing, recording and writing about the Rodgers and Hart beautiful standard called You Are Too Beautiful exactly five and a half years ago today. That said, I refuse to accept the fact that my slip of memory is a “senior moment”. After all, my long-time adult piano students often marvel at how well I remember situations and people in their lives that they’ve mentioned at a lesson several years before.

So let me tell you why I became excited about playing You Are Too Beautiful for today’s post.

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Revisiting the Rodgers and Hart Classic

Have You Met Miss Jones? She’s a Delightful Send Off to our Rodgers & Hart Series

For some reason I have no recollection of when I first heard the wonderful standard Have You Met Miss Jones? by Rodgers and Hart. Ironically, it was sung by Robbie Williams in the movie Bridget Jones’ Diary which starred Renée Zellweger. Needless to say, like so many of our peers, Brenda and I saw the DVD and yet certainly hearing the tune doesn’t ring a bell. Perhaps I heard the tune played by one of my favorite pianists along the way, but I simply don’t recall it.

Despite this fact, I do remember finding the music in one of my Fake Books and figuring out how to play it. Once I did that, it joined the ranks of the songs I simply enjoy playing. It seems to me that like so many of the other tunes by this wonderful songwriting team, Have You Met Miss Jones? has a rich sense of harmony, an interesting melody, a solid structure and offers the opportunity to use the anchor bass in conjunction with walking bass lines.

Written in 1937 for the musical comedy I’d Rather Be Right, it’s not surprising that given the experience of these collaborators Have You Met Miss Jones?  is such a solid piece of music. If you’re interested in a much more in-depth commentary about the background of the tune, I would suggest that you take a look at Sandra Burlingame’s informative article.

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I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, But Time Stands Still When You’re In Love

It sure is interesting that time is such a concern to everyone these days. One of my father’s favorite pastimes was to sit out in the sun. Contrary to what many of you might think was relaxing e.g. laying on a beach in Cancun, my dad enjoyed people so much that he would sit out in the sun in front of the local post office. He would often comment to me about how many people stopped and from their cars would ask him if he knew what time it was. He found this fascinating and would usually ask me if anyone wears a watch anymore. I told him that this was no longer necessary, because cell phones have clocks, cars have clocks and a variety of other electronic devices maintain digital timekeepers. As a result, neither one of us could really figure out why people would ask him what time it was. I suppose that this is today’s climate. Most of us are in a hurry and yet we don’t seem to be able to control our time. When it came to looking at today’s song, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, I was reminded of how things were a couple of generations ago.

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Isn’t It Romantic? A Valentine’s Day Card from 1932

In the years that I studied composition with the compositional masters Lukas Foss, Tom McKinley, Marjorie Merryman and Charles Fussell, I probably composed more types of instrumental music than I even thought were possible. Beginning with my long-awaited dream of composing a trio for flute cello and piano (something I begun back in 1971), my classical compositional career extended for about 16 years (1989-2005).

After a couple of years of studies, the one thing that had been missing was the technique of putting words to music. This had always been a challenge for me. Fortunately, Charles Fussell was a master at this. In our lessons we talked about the mastery of American composer Virgil Thomson. Charles even recommended Thomson’s book Music With Words. In his humility he never told me that he had been practically the co-author.

If I had to boil the book’s (and Charles’) lessons down to one concept, it would be this: speak the words and set them to the music in the same way that you would imagine them sounding. Since that time, I’ve had the experience of noticing how incorrectly words are set to music in a variety of styles. Nevertheless, when it comes to how composer Richard Rodgers put music to the words of Lorenz Hart, There is no one better.

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