Slow Listening Saturdays: 1939

My mother turns 75 this weekend, and I’m listening Slow in her honor. She made her debut in 1939, so I thought a few compositions from that same year might be the appropriate tribute on this page. What was happening in the musical world seventy-five years ago? The answer, as always: a lot.

Bela Bartok wrote some of my favorite music to ever show up on our planet, and his string quartets are endlessly interesting and inspiring to me. This is part of the third movement of his sixth quartet, written in 1939. Bartok was a tireless cataloguer of his country’s folk music, and this movement is full of melodic, harmonic, and technical gestures that are recognizably Hungarian. It’s not folk music, though, but remembrances of that put through the fire of Bartok’s disciplined mind and pungent style. When my mom was born in a little town in Minnesota, this is an example of what a leading composer was creating new.

And this is an example of what was on Broadway. “DuBarry Was A Lady” is, I’m guessing, a musical you’ve never heard? It was a hit in 1939, starring Ethel Merman singing the score by Cole Porter. If you’ve heard one song from it, it’s probably “Friendship,” here performed by Merman and Bert Lahr, who you may know best as the Cowardly Lion from a movie that debuted that same year. Check out the lyrics. Dig dig dig? Push push push? I need to ask Mom about that.

Speaking of the movie – well, who can resist.

Behind the moon, beyond the rain. Happy Birthday, Mom. And happy Slow Listening, all. Remember to share the slow!


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