Kern was born in New York in 1885. His first music teacher was his mother who taught him piano and organ. When he reached high school, he was often found writing music for their theater to perform. At 17, he wrote a production based on Uncle Tom’s Cabin. After high school, he tried his hand at his father’s business but he was not successful there. After a disastrous event (according to one source, he accidentally ordered 200 pianos instead of 2!), he was allowed to leave to study music at New York College of Music. After that, he studied in Germany. Following his studies, he returned to New York.
When he got down to working, he worked for a music company writing songs to go into musicals being adapted from England to America. He was highly successful in this endeavor and it launched his writing career. In 1915, he began writing musicals for the Princess Theater. In 1927, he wrote what became his most famous musical: Show Boat. Songs in this musical included “Old Man River”, “Bill”, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”, “Make Believe”, and “Why Do I Love You?”. Joe, the main character, was first performed by Jules Bledsoe, a tenor from our hometown of Waco, TX.
Kern continued to write for Broadway until sometime in the mid-1930s. At that time, he went to Hollywood and began working on movie music. Many of these were adaptations of Broadway productions. Kern was highly successful in these endeavors. In 1945, Kern had returned to Broadway to help with a revival of Show Boat. He experienced a cerebral hemmorage and passed away.
Kern is remembered for the hundreds of songs he composed and the many musical he created. His life was remembered in the film Till The Clouds Roll By. Kern is considered the grandfather of the musical because his writing was quite progressive and he wrote about some tough themes, many seen in Show Boat. Popular songs, even today, by Kern include “Ol’ Man River”, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, “A Fine Romance”, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, “The Song Is You”, “All The Things You Are”, “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Long Ago and Far Away.”
Resources for Jerome Kern:
Lori, At Home.
Thank you for joining me this week for Composer ABCs. Please visit the hosts to find the linky and other participants.
Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook – This week is K is for Kitchen.
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – This week is Know Yourself – Stop the Comparison Game.
Featured from Week 10 all things ‘J’
- J is for Jurassic and J is for Jenga over at Our Homeschool Notebook
- J is for Johnston over at A Mom’s Quest to Teach.
- Discovering J Rabbits of the World over at At Home Pets
- Joy in Listening to Books over at A Net in Time
- Homeschooling Tips from A to Z: the Letter J over at Homeschooling Highway