Past Event

Oxford University Zoom Colloquium: Professor Walter Frisch, "Harold Arlen and His Songs"

November 29, 2022
12:15 PM - 1:00 PM
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This Colloquium is over Zoom.

Professor Walter Frisch will give a talk over Zoom on Tuesday, November 29th at 12:15 PM EST. This talk is organized through the University of Oxford Graduate Research Colloquium. The session is free to attend; register here by Tuesday morning.

Abstract: This talk will explore the challenges (and rewards) of doing research on the American Songbook, a repertory central to musical culture of the United States in the twentieth century. The focus is on Harold Arlen, composer of “Over the Rainbow,” “Stormy Weather,” and other standards.  Arlen had a fifty-year career as composer, as collaborator with a range of different lyricists, and as a performer of his music.  Among the topics to be discussed are the nature and availability of sources for this repertory; the relevance of racial and ethnic identities to an understanding of Arlen’s songs; and Arlen’s frequent modification of conventional forms.  I will also consider the “ontology” of an Arlen song: how does the notated sheet music (when it survives) represent the composer’s intentions, and how do performances or recordings become part of the song’s identity? “Over the Rainbow” is arguably as much Judy Garland’s “work” as it is that of Arlen and his lyricist Yip Harburg.