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May 1999 Edition
Songs of Spring & May Flowers


Now that we have had our April showers in the USA, traditionally that means May flowers bloom and spring renews the spirit of the land and body. Springtime always brings a freshness to us that is happy and invigorating. This springtime renewal has been the subject of many songs over the years and we want to share with you this month some of the floral and seasonal themed songs from our collection.
Join us this month for a celebration of springtime and the beauty it brings us as viewed through the eyes and creativity of composers and lyricists from times past.

Sheet Music Cover A Sunshine Shower
1905
Music by: Bayley Jordan
Lyrics by: (none, piano solo)
Cover artist: "Lappen"

The artwork for this work is a beautiful spring shower scene that starts our feature off with thoughts of spring showers and sunshine. Clearly the composer and cover artist wanted to convey that idea. I think in this case, the artist did a more effective job than the composer.
This song is titled as a "Reverie" and is written in 3/4 time, often called waltz time. As such, it comes across more as a stately waltz than a contemplative musical pastiche. As a waltz, it is very formal with a grandness about it that seems almost unrelated to the title.
I think that this song is a good example of how sometimes a composer will write a work and search for a title that fits it. It also shows that the cover of a work can often convey more than the work inside. So maybe we need to say, "you can't tell a cover by its book"?

Enjoy this early 20th century Reverie.

Sheet Music Cover Apple Blossom Time
1920
Music by: Albert Von Tilzer
Lyrics by: Neville Fleeson
Cover Artist: "Rose"

And where would springtime be without the beauty of the flowering trees and blossoms that are verywhere during these beautiful days? And of course, where better else to be than under an apple tree at "apple blossom time"?
Once again we have one of the great Von Tilzer brother's smash hits. This song has been a mega-hit ever since its publication in 1920. This is among the most well known melodies of this century but how many of us remember the opening phrases? Many of the great songs we hear had wonderful "introductions" that have been lost or forgotten over time in favor of the main chorus melody. We hope bringing these old songs to you allows you to rediscover this great old music as it was originally written. For me, it is a thrill to hear these beautiful songs in their full glory.

Sit with your honey under the apple tree here.

Sheet Music Cover Down By The Old Mill Stream
1910
Music & Lyrics by: Tell Taylor
Cover artist: Unknown

If you can't be under the apple tree, perhaps the next best place to be during spingtime would be down by the old mill stream with somone you love. A beautifully flowing melody with romantic lyrics, this song has also been a favorite for over 80 years. Tell Taylor was also one of the powerhouses in musical composition during the early 20th century. He is responsible for hundreds of songs, many of which became permanent hits. Of all of his songs, perhaps none is better known than "Down By The Old Mill Stream".
Of couse this song has also been one of the staples for barbershop quartets and is arguably the one song that seems to define that genre. The song was originally published with not only the piano version but also with an arrangement for male vocal quartet. We have included that arrangement as a part of this performance. You will first hear the piano arrangement, then the male quartet version. As you listen, also note the beautiful introduction that precedes the melody we are most familiar with.

Listen to this great quartet favorite.

Sheet Music Cover
The Robin's Return
1912
Music by: Leander Fisher
Lyrics by: none, piano solo
Cover artist: Barbelle

As a child growing up in the "snowbelt" of Northeastern Ohio, no other event heralded the arrival of spring more than the return of the ubiquitous Robin. I always knew that when I heard that first Robin's song that spring would be soon upon us. Leander Fisher celebrated that arrival for us with this wonderful and fresh composition for piano solo. This is the only work by this composer in our collection at this time and I can only say I wish I had more.
I find the piece a pleasure to play and pianistically one of the more interesting in our collection. It is more a classical piano piece than a popular song and perhaps that is why I enjoy it so much. To hear another very interesting piano work about the Robin, be sure to listen to "The Robin" found on this month's gallery page. That work, though very short, is very complex and imitative of the bird itself. It is also one of the oldest in the collection. Listen to it and see if you agree.

Listen to this song.

Sheet Music Cover
The Humming Bird
1906
Music by: Franz Shiller
Cover artist: unknown

Another bird that appears only in warmer weather in some areas is the gorgeous humming bird. We love to watch them flit from flower to flower hovering nearby and sipping the nectar from the fresh blossoms.
This work is from a series of "instructional" (etude) songs for piano students called Woodland Echoes. The cover is quite decorative and lists all of the songs in the series. This piece is a very simple yet wonderfully melodic piece that I find enjoyable and soothing. Songs such as this tend to be appealing to students and help nurture their interest in practice. Our collection has many childrens songs and etudes and I find most of them to be quite enjoyable. It takes a special talent to write songs that are not only fun to hear but fun to play and instructionally meaningful.

Listen to the Humming Bird.


Sheet Music Cover
Water-Cress
1909
Music by: W.C. Powell
Lyrics by: none, piano solo
Cover artist: Pfeiffer

Oh my, I've arrived at the end of our features for the month and nearly neglected the flowers! This song is sub-titled "A Flower Song" but I must tell you, I never thought of Water-Cress as a flower. I thought it was something you put in a salad.
The cover of this work is beautiful as were many of Pfeiffer's works.The music is a dreamy reverie that reminds you of a spring day and as the picture depicts, swans and ducks lazily swimming in the lake. The music is very nice and shows some of the harmonies and structure that is common to songs of this period.

Hear this beautiful work from the past.

Be sure to visit this month's gallery for more great songs, including "The Robin" and other songs for springtime.



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