Five Cabaret Songs

From Wind Repertory Project
William Bolcom

William Bolcom (arr. Frenkel and Bolcom)

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Formerly entitled Three Cabaret Songs

General Info

Year: 2009
Duration: c. 8:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Edward B. Marks
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


1. Over the Piano
2. Song of Black Max
3. Waitin'
4. Radical Sally
5. Amor


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Horn in F I-II
String Bass

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Three Cabaret Songs (text by Arnold Weinstein) were arranged for the United States Coast Guard Band by MUC Ian Frenkel, and presented at the 2009 Midwest Clinic. In 2014, two more Frenkel arrangements were added to the set at the request of Kansas University for mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle, and premiered at KU by Ms. Castle under the baton of Paul Popiel on October 6, 2014.

- Program Note from publisher

The collaboration between poet Arnold Weinstein and composer William Bolcom began in the 1960s, when the two worked together to write the musical theater piece Dynamite Tonite. In the late 1970s, they renewed their working partnership again to produce four successful volumes of Cabaret Songs over the next two decades. Bolcom had long been performing in this elusive genre, accompanying his wife, Joan Morris, whose voice heavily inspired and affected his own cabaret compositions. The authors made clear the artistic heritage in which they were participating, identifying a heavily German cabaret lineage from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht back through Arnold Schoenberg and further back still to Franz Schubert. The 24 songs’ fascinating blend of sophisticated rhetoric and seeming lack of refinement have led to their frequent inclusion in both vocal recitals and theatrical revues.

Rarely predictable but always pleasing, the songs tread a most delicate balance between pathos and bathos. Over the Piano encapsulates the entire cycle. Over a harmonically florid accompaniment, which makes heavy use of rubato, an engaging melodic line, alternating between lyricism and parlando style, tells an intriguing tale with a wry final twist. The Song of Black Max is something of a through-composed “Moritat of Mack the Knife” from Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera. Waitin is resignedly simple. The set closes with a calculated audience-pleaser, George, a darkly humorous tale with music that references both ragtime and Puccini (as the lyrics mention the most famous aria from his opera Madama Butterfly).

The arrangements of the first three songs performed tonight were made by Ian Frenkel, arranger for the United State Coast Guard Band. William Bolcom arranged George in the summer of 2017 for this specific performance, using the same instrumentation as Frenkel.

- Program Note by Thomas Oram for University of Michigan Symphony Band concert program, 21 November2017


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer