A Fine Romance – traveling exhibit on Jewish composers

The traveling exhibit A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910-1965 will be on display March 7 through April 20, 2012  at the Health Sciences Library. The exhibition is co-sponsored by the University of Colorado Health Sciences Library, the Mizel Museum, the Colorado Hebrew Chorale and the Program in Jewish Studies, University Colorado Boulder.

Much of what is known as the great American songbook is the result of a group of composers who emerged from a common ethnic background. A Fine Romance tells the story of many Jewish composers, such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and George Gershwin, who made indelible contributions to the American popular music repertoire. The best composers of this period combined a genius for melody and a talent for finding the perfect words. A large number of them were Jewish—from families that had immigrated to American in the 1800s or had fled persecution in Europe. Libraries across the country are hosting the exhibit.

The Health Sciences Library and the Mizel Museum will host two events in conjunction with the exhibit.

Opening Reception – Monday March 12, 4:00 pm in the Library’s Reading Room.

Thomas L. Riis, PhD, University of Colorado Boulder, will give a presentation entitled “Nice work if you can get it!  Writing Jewish music on Broadway”.  The presentation will be illustrated by recorded examples and will explore the fascinating back stories, composers’ lives, questions, and social issues surrounding the development of one of America’s most original musical traditions.

Colorado Hebrew Chorale Concert – Monday, March 19, 4:00 pm in the Trivisible Room on the second floor or Research 2.

The Chorale will perform a variety of songs from the American songbook.

Poster for Swing Time. Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures Inc./Photofest ©RKO Radio Pictures Inc. Photographer: John Miehle.

A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910-1965 was created by Nextbook, a Jewish cultural organization, and the American Library Association. Based on a book written by David Lehman, the exhibit tells the story with images from Broadway musicals, classic films, posters and personal collections. The collection features famous Jewish songwriters as well as compositions by more obscure figures, including Harold Arlen, Sammy Cahn and Leo Robin.

Nextbook, Inc., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Jewish literature, culture, and ideas, and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The national tour of the exhibit has been made possible by grants from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, and an anonymous donor, with additional support from Tablet Magazine: A New Read on Jewish Life.