Bloomingdale School of Music   Menu  
Home Programs Concerts Features Faculty Register
Cole Porter Poster

Major Composers of the
Great American Songbook

Harold Arlen
Irving Berlin
Vernon Duke
Duke Ellington
George and Ira Gershwin
Rodgers & Hammerstein
Rodgers & Hart
Jimmy Van Heusen
Burton Lane
Johnny Mercer
Cole Porter

Duke Ellington Poster

External Links

Streaming audio of Songbook standards, 24-7

The Great American Songbook Preservation Society

A PBS special on the Great American Songbook

A sample list of Great American Songbook songs

The Wizard of Oz
Share |

Great American Songbook

“In a hundred to a hundred fifty years from now, I believe that people will recognize the music of Gershwin and Ellington as the Classical Music of our time."

          - Tony Bennett
Internet Concert Project
The Great American Songbook consists of songs composed during the Golden Age of songwriting in the 1920's-1960's… songs that continue to permeate our culture and melt our hearts. The Songbook contains songs from the Hollywood musical, Broadway musical, and the infamous Tin Pan Alley.  The songs endure years later partly due to their original success on stage, and they continue to fill our ears as the main body of tunes in the jazz world. On October 24, 2008 vocalist Alysia Lee and pianist Faith McCoy presented a concert featuring Great American Songbook favorites at Bloomingdale School of Music, and we are pleased to present excerpts of it to you as part of the Internet Concert Project.

Crafting a Program
The Great American Songbook is dear to my heart. It is the soundtrack to some of my most treasured moments. My father has always been a jazz fanatic, and I have fond memories of ciphering through his enormous LP collection in search of new aural delights. Many of those tunes are from the Great American Songbook.  I also have a fascination with the Hollywood musicals of old. The Songbook contains for me wonderful kernels of my history.

In order to craft the program, I researched songs by Arlen, Gershwin, and other favorite composers. I also turned to other performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Eileen Farrell, and Barbara Cook—singers who have set aside much of their output to the Great American Songbook. I compiled lists of my favorites and sorted them by theme, noticing quite a few that were recurrent: Love, Heartache, Music, and Hope. The concert I presented with my friend and colleague Faith McCoy was centered around these themes. I also thought it was important to perform songs that have been written recently that continue the storytelling tradition of the Great American Songbook.

          - Alysia Lee
Alysia Lee Video

An Audio Interview with Alysia Lee

1. What is the Great American Songbook?

2. What does the Great American Songbook mean to you, both personally and as a performer?

3. Why did you choose the specific set of songs and composers on the program?

4. What are the challenges of presenting a program like this one?

5. What makes these songs interesting and enjoyable to the audience?

Rodgers and Hart
Rodgers and Hart

Concert Program and Videos
Performance Videos
Selected Composer Bios
Performer Bios

Alysia Lee, soprano
Faith McCoy, piano

Hit me with a Hot Note Duke Ellington
From Sophisticated Ladies

I’ve Got Rhythm George and Ira Gershwin

Sleepin’ Bee/I Never has Seen Snow Harold Arlen
From Leave It to Me

Bill/Can't Help Lovin Dat Man of Mine Oscar Hammerstein II/Jerome Kern
From Show Boat

How Long has this been Going On? George and Ira Gershwin
From Rosalie

Someone to Watch over Me George and Ira Gershwin

Blues in The Night Harold Arlen
From the film Blues in the Night

Black Coffee Sonny Burke and Paul Francis Webster

Look for the Silver Lining/Over the Rainbow Cole Porter/Harold Arlen
From the films Look for the Silver Lining and The Wizard of Oz

Recent Songs:
Taylor the Latte Boy Marcy Heisler/Zina Goldrich

Hero and Leander Adam Guettel
From Myths and Hymns

Performance videos presented by arrangement with ASCAP

323 West 108th Street · New York, NY 10025 · (212) 663–6021 · Contact Us