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Ol' Man River

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Jerome Kern

Jerome Kern (arr. Johnnie Vinson)


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'Subtitle: From 'Showboat [sic: Show Boat]


General Info

Year: 1927 / 1991
Duration:
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print.


Instrumentation

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Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Ol' Man River (music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) is a song in the 1927 musical Show Boat that contrasts the struggles and hardships of African Americans with the endless, uncaring flow of the Mississippi River; it is sung from the point of view of a black stevedore on a showboat, and is the most famous song from the show. Meant to be performed in a slow tempo, it is sung complete once in the musical's lengthy first scene by the stevedore "Joe" who travels with the boat, and, in the stage version, is heard four more times in brief reprises. Joe serves as a sort of musical one-man Greek chorus, and the song, when reprised, comments on the action, as if saying, "This has happened, but the river keeps rolling on anyway." The song is notable for several aspects: the lyrical pentatonic-scale melody, the subjects of toil and social class, metaphor to the Mississippi, and as a bass solo (rare in musicals, solos for baritones or tenors being more common).

A version of the song, by Paul Whiteman with bass singer Paul Robeson on vocals and sung in a dance tempo, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2006. Also, in 2004, Robeson's version finished at #24 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


Media


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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  • Atascadero (Calif.) Community Band (Rande Schwalbe, conductor) – 19 July 2016


Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources

  • Kern, J.; Vinson, J. (1995). Ol' Man River: From "Show Boat" [score]. Hal Leonard: Milwaukee, Wisc.
  • Ol' Man River, Wikipedia Accessed 4 July 2016