City Life (1938), by Joseph Delaney (1904-1991), is paired with two pieces of music. Which do you prefer, “Hurricane,” from George Gershwin’s (1898-1937) Catfish Row Suite (1936) or “He Used to Be Your Man But He’s My Man Now” by Edith Wilson And Johnny Dunns Original Jazz Hounds?
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City Life and “Hurricane,” from George Gershwin’s (1898-1937) Catfish Row Suite
This pairing and commentary are by Rachel Yoder.
Performed by Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony.
Chimes snap our eyes to the bright, solitary streetlight, and the following solo guides us through the entire scene. As the instrumentation thickens, so our eyes quicken and discover a narrative. We see two dark-skinned people in a sea of white faces and begin to sense racial tension, while French horns bombastically take over a confused chaos of flutes, clarinets, oboes, and the entire string section.
Joseph Delaney’s 1938 oil painting City Life portrays the lively bustle of Times Square. Meanwhile, George Gershwin’s “Hurricane” from his 1936 suite “Catfish Row” guides its audience from reflection to wild tension. Together, the two works of art express one mood of early 20th-century America.
To read Rachel’s essay click here.
For a contrasting experience listen to “He Used to Be Your Man But He’s My Man Now” by Edith Wilson And Johnny Dunns Original Jazz Hounds, Live from the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
This pairing and commentary are by Liz Kovalchuk
Recording courtesy of Free Music Archive.
Listening to “He Used to Be Your Man But He’s My Man Now” while looking at City Life takes you back to a time when rebellion was in the air and being cool was a new and exciting concept. Enjoy and appreciate values from a time when urbanization was in its initial development. Both Joseph Delaney and Edith Wilson employ compositional layers as an elegant means of exhibiting the trendy innovative stylizations of the 1920s. Delaney utilizes avant-garde thick paintbrush strokes while capitalizing on compositional techniques, such as suggesting diagonals, that create a balanced frame capturing excitement in a sophisticated manner. Wilson similarly sings in a contemporary jazz quintet while gracefully portraying a racy subject matter. Both works capture the essence of ideals and style of life the in 1920s New York City.
To read Liz’s essay click here.