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May 07, 1982 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-05-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

f4 Friday, May 7, 196

TithiEtlif

NEWS

Detroiter Among Tin Pan Alley Jews Profiled in New Volume

Tin Pan Alley, the New
York neighborhood where
many of America's most
popular songs were con-
ceived, was named for the
unusual piano technique of
Detroit-born songwriter
Harry Gumm.
Gumm, later known as

Harry Von Tilzer, is one of
dozens of Jewish songwrit-
ers, arrangers and pub-
lishers profiled by Kenneth
A. Kanter in "The Jews on
Tin Pan Alley" (Ktav).
Von Tilzer, who made the
move from writer to pub-
lisher in the 1890s, often
wound pieces of paper
around the strings of his
piano in order to achieve a
tinny sound that he enjoyed.
According to Kanter, the
term "Tin Pan Alley" was
coined by journalist Monroe
Rosenfeld, who heard Von

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Tilzer play the modified
piano while doing research
for an article on the uptown
area where most of New
York's music publishers
had offices.
The uncanny ability of
American Jewish
songwriters such as
Richard Rogers, Jerome
Kern, Irving Berlin and
the Gershwin brothers
(George and Ira) to trans-
late the nation's hopes
and dreams into words
and music is chronicled
by Kanter. The author

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explores the wonderful
knack that European
immigrants had for corn-
ing up with such pieces of
Americana as "Waiting
for the Robert E. Lee,"
"Swanee" and "Home
Sweet Home."
The "Jewishness" of the
songwriters is plaingly evi-
dent in their work, accord-
ing to Kanter. "Some, such
as Charles K. Harris (who
wrote 'After the Ball,' the
first million-seller of sheet
music), Irving Berlin and
the Gershwins, wrote songs
containing Jewish content.
"Others included in their
lyrics traditional Jewish
themes, such as home, fam-
ily, immigration and the
`old country.'
"Oscar Hammerstein II,
raised outside of his grand-
parents' Jewish religion, led
the fight against anti-
Semitism and Nazism when
he was in Hollywood."

Stars in Israel

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Jack
Lemmon and. Walter
Matthau, who played the
part of the "Odd Couple" in
the popular film, are in Is-
rael as participants in a Los
Angeles entertainment
study mission organized by
the United Jewish appeal.



After delving into the
beginning of the Ameri-
can Jewish musical ex-
perience, Kanter brings
the reader up to date
with profiles of such con-
temporary composers as
Sammy Cahn, Lorenz
Hart and Marvin Ham-
lisch.
The author is assistant

rabbi at Cong. Ohabai
Sholom in Nashville, Tenn.
He is a graduate of Harvard
University, where he ma-
jored in Jewish and Ameri-
can history. He has toured
the United States with a
series of one-man shows
tracing the contribution of
Jews to Broadway and Tin
Pan Alley.

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