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date: 25 January 2020

Kern, Jerome (David)locked

  • Ronald Byrnside
  •  and Andrew Lamb

Extract

(David)

(b New York, Jan 27, 1885; d New York, Nov 11, 1945). American composer. He was one of the most significant composers in the history of American popular musical theatre. His songs established a pattern for American show songs, and his theatre scores provided the bridge by which the 19th-century Ruritanian operetta style evolved into that of the specifically 20th-century American musical, with its close integration of book, lyrics and music.

Kern learnt to play the piano from his mother, and in 1902 studied harmony, theory and piano at the New York College of Music. His first published composition, At the Casino (for piano), appeared in the same year. In 1903 he continued his musical training in Heidelberg, Germany, returning to New York via London. For a time he worked as a rehearsal pianist in Broadway theatres and as a song-plugger for such firms as Harms, in which he acquired a junior partnership. His first significant work was providing additional songs for adaptations of British musical shows, including Ivan Caryll’s ...

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