Jerome Kern

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Jerome Kern : biography

January 27, 1885 – November 11, 1945

In his last Hollywood musicals, Kern worked with several new and distinguished partners. With Johnny Mercer for You Were Never Lovelier (1942), he contributed "a set of memorable songs to entertain audiences until the plot came to its inevitable conclusion".Hischak, Thomas The Oxford Companion to the American Musical, Oxford University Press 2009, Oxford Reference Online, accessed May 15, 2010 (requires subscription) The film starred Astaire and Rita Hayworth and included the song "I’m Old Fashioned". Kern’s next collaboration was with Ira Gershwin on Cover Girl starring Hayworth and Gene Kelly (1944) for which Kern composed "Sure Thing","Put Me to the Test," "Make Way for Tomorrow" (lyric by E. Y. Harburg), and the hit ballad "Long Ago (and Far Away)".Hischak, Thomas. . The Oxford Companion to the American Musical, Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online, accessed May 15, 2010 (requires subscription) For the Deanna Durbin Western musical, Can’t Help Singing (1944), with lyrics by Harburg, Kern "provided the best original score of Durbin’s career, mixing operetta and Broadway sounds in such songs as ‘Any Moment Now,’ ‘Swing Your Partner,’ ‘More and More,’ and the lilting title number." "More and More" was nominated for an Oscar.Hischak, Thomas. . The Oxford Companion to the American Musical, Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online, accessed May 15, 2010 (requires subscription)

Kern composed his last film score, Centennial Summer (1946) in which "the songs were as resplendent as the story and characters were mediocre. … Oscar Hammerstein, Leo Robin, and E. Y. Harburg contributed lyrics for Kern’s lovely music, resulting in the soulful ballad ‘All Through the Day,’ the rustic ‘Cinderella Sue,’ the cheerful ‘Up With the Lark,’ and the torchy ‘In Love in Vain.’" "All Through the Day" was another Oscar nominee.Hischak, Thomas. . The Oxford Companion to the American Musical, Oxford University Press 2009, Oxford Reference Online, accessed May 15, 2010 (requires subscription) The music of Kern’s last two films is notable in the way it developed from his earlier work. Some of it was too advanced for the film companies; Kern’s biographer, Stephen Banfield, refers to "tonal experimentation … outlandish enharmonics" that the studios insisted on cutting.Banfield, p. 302 At the same time, in some ways his music came full circle: having in his youth helped to end the reigns of the waltz and operetta, he now composed three of his finest waltzes ("Can’t Help Singing", "Californ-i-ay" and "Up With the Lark"), the last having a distinctly operetta-like character.Banfield, pp. 292–93

Personal life and death

[[Lena Horne sings "Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man" in Till the Clouds Roll By.]] Kern and his wife, Eva, often vacationed on their yacht Show Boat. He collected rare books and enjoyed betting on horses. at the NNDB database, accessed May 17, 2010 At the time of Kern’s death, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was filming a fictionalized version of his life, Till the Clouds Roll By, which was released in 1946 starring Robert Walker as Kern.The Times, February 7, 1947, p. 8 In the film, Kern’s songs are sung by Judy Garland, Kathryn Grayson, June Allyson, Lena Horne, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury, among others, and Gower Champion and Cyd Charisse appear as dancers., credits, Internet Archive, accessed June 4, 2013 Many of the biographical facts are fictionalized., Rotten Tomatoes, accessed June 4, 2013

In the fall of 1945, Kern returned to New York City to oversee auditions for a new revival of Show Boat, and began to work on the score for what would become the musical Annie Get Your Gun, to be produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein. On November 5, 1945, at 60 years of age, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while walking at the corner of Park Avenue and 57th Street.Sleeve notes, Atlantic LP ALS 409 "George Byron Sings Jerome Kern", 1952 Identifiable only by his ASCAP card, Kern was initially taken to the indigent ward at City Hospital, later being transferred to Doctors Hospital in Manhattan. Hammerstein was at his side when Kern’s breathing stopped. Hammerstein hummed or sang the song "I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star" from Music in the Air (a personal favorite of the composer’s) into Kern’s ear. Receiving no response, Hammerstein knew Kern had died. Rodgers and Hammerstein then assigned the task of writing the score for Annie Get Your Gun to the veteran Broadway composer Irving Berlin.