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Celebrating Recent Work by Walter Frisch

New Books in the Arts and Sciences

dateNovember 13, 2017 timeMonday, 6:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences in the Humanities
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated

New Books in the Arts & Sciences
—panel discussions celebrating recent work by the Columbia Faculty

Arlen and Harburg's Over The Rainbow
by Walter Frisch

"Over the Rainbow" exploded into worldwide fame upon its performance by Judy Garland in the MGM film musical The Wizard of Oz (1939). Voted the greatest song of the twentieth century in a 2000 survey, it is a masterful, delicate balance of sophistication and child-like simplicity in which composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg poignantly captured the hope and anxiety harbored by Dorothy's character.

In Arlen and Harburg's Over the Rainbow, author Walter Frisch traces the history of this song from its inception during the development of The Wizard of Oz's screenplay, to its various reinterpretations over the course of the twentieth century. Through analysis of the song's music and lyrics, this Oxford Keynotes volume provides a close reading of the piece while examining the evolution of its meaning as it traversed widely varying cultural contexts. From its adoption as a jazz standard by generations of pianists, to its contribution to Judy Garland's role as a gay icon, to its reemergence as a chart-topping recording by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Over the Rainbow" continues to engage audiences and performers alike in surprising ways. Featuring a companion website with audio and video supplements, this book leaves no path unexplored as it succeeds in capturing the extent of this song's impact on the world.

  • Author Walter Frisch H. Harold Gumm/Harry and Albert von Tilzer Professor of Music Columbia University
  • Discussant Kevin Fellezs Assistant Professor of Music, IRAAS/Ethnomusicology Columbia University
  • Discussant David Hajdu Professor of Journalism Columbia University
  • Discussant Will Friedwald Author and Journalist
  • Panel Chair Elaine Sisman Anne Parsons Bender Professor of Music Columbia University