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Something to Live ForThe Music of Billy Strayhorn$
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Walter van de Leur

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195124484

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195124484.001.0001

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Chapter One Fantastic Rhythm: The Pittsburgh Years

Chapter One Fantastic Rhythm: The Pittsburgh Years

(p.3) Chapter One Fantastic Rhythm: The Pittsburgh Years
Something to Live For

Walter van de Leur

Oxford University Press

This chapter plots the three lines along which Strayhorn’s music developed: classical music, theater music, and jazz. After a brief biographical narrative, it investigates Strayhorn’s surviving counterpoint exercises. These bring up his education in classical music and his classical piano playing. Strayhorn’s early compositions in a classical vein that presage some of his later works are introduced, including Valse (Lento Sostenuto) and Concerto for Piano and Percussion. The chapter then moves to the theater show Fantastic Rhythm (1935), for which Strayhorn wrote the music and the lyrics. A discussion of the show follows, based on rediscovered manuscripts. Though youthful, this show too foreshadows Strayhorn’s later work. Other original early works are presented, including Lush Life, Something to Live For, and Your Love Has Faded. The chapter concludes with an exploration of Strayhorn’s jazz orchestrations from his pre-Ellington period.

Keywords:   Ellington, Pittsburgh, classical music, theater music, jazz, Lush Life

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