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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » K » Kern, Jerome

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Jerome Kern (1/27/1885 - 11/11/1945)

Jerome Kern was an established composer of popular song who no doubt influenced young up-and-comers George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers. Born and educated in public schools in New York City, he received his Master of Music degree at Heidleberg University in Germany. After returning to the U.S., the first of many of his songs was interpolated into a Broadway show. He was only 19. He scored his first musical in 1911 and had his first hit with P.G. Wodehouse’s lyrics to “They Didn’t Believe Me” from 1914’s The Girl from Utah.

Kern’s crowning success was 1927’s Showboat with Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical was a milestone on Broadway because it dealt seriously with racism and featured a racially mixed cast. It also contained hits such as “Ol’ Man River,” “Make Believe,” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.” In 1932, again with Hammerstein, he wrote “The Song Is You” for Music in the Air. The title song for Roberta (1933) was written with Otto Harbach, and the show was later made into a movie.


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