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date: 16 October 2019

Swift, Kaylocked

  • Edward Jablonski
  •  and Mark Steyn

Extract

(b New York, April 19, 1897; d Southington, CT, Jan 28, 1993). American composer, lyricist, author and pianist. Born into a musical family (her father was the music critic Samuel Swift), she began music lessons at the age of seven. She studied the piano with Bertha Tapper and composition with A.E. Johnstone at the Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School), then continued with Charles Loeffler (composition) and Heinrich Gebhard (piano) at the New England Conservatory. She also studied counterpoint and orchestration with Percy Goetschius. On graduation she became a pianist, accompanying singers and instrumentalists, and a member of a trio which toured the northeastern USA.

Swift has two claims to a place in American musical history: first, in the 1920s, among the massed ranks of Tin Pan Alleymen, she (along with the lyricist Dorothy Fields and a few others) was a rare female songwriter; second, as an intimate friend and a fellow composer, she was among George Gershwin’s closest musical confidants apart from his brother Ira. Swift had classical credentials; Gershwin was best known as a song-plugger who had graduated to musical comedy. At one stage, she was writing a fugue a week; he was writing a song a day. She assisted his transition to the concert hall; he led her to Broadway and popular music....

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