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Vincent Youmans: Great American Songwriter

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Members Free and Non-members $15

Vincent Youmans: Great American Songwriter

Fred Broer

Vincent Youmans greatly influenced and shaped American popular music in the early decades of the twentieth century. During his lifetime, Youmans was hailed nationally and internationally as one of the greatest songwriters of the era. Between 1921 and 1932, he composed over a dozen Broadway musicals, two of which achieved world-wide fame. Counter to his immense success, Youmans had a disastrous personal life, which included a failed marriage, a coarse personality, heavy drinking, and a diagnosis of tuberculosis that led to his early death at the age of 47 in 1946. This complicated man and his brilliant music are both intriguing and enticing. Fred Broer will present a biographical lecture on Youmans with a focus on his wildly successful 1927 musical Hit the Deck, illustrated with rare photographs and printed materials, an antique recorded performance, and recent recordings that illustrate Youmans’ musical style and his significant contributions to the development of American music.

Fred Broer is an Athenæum member and retired college professor. He holds a master’s degree in music from Indiana University and a doctorate in music from Boston University. He has taught music courses in colleges for over twenty years. Over the past seven years, Broer has been presenting lectures and teaching courses in music at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, including a six-week survey of Vincent Youmans’ life and music. As a specialist in the field of Vincent Youmans, Broer’s research has resulted in compiling a large collection of rare photographs, recordings, artifacts, and music scores. Broer is also a prolific composer with several of his works released in two recordings by Parma Recordings on the Navona label.

Explore first editions of printed sheet music of Vincent Youmans’ songs, including several from Hit the Deck, including “Join the Navy” and “Why, Oh, Why”. Or learn more about Youmans’ life and music from Days to Be Happy, Years to Be Sad: The Life and Music of Vincent Youmans by Gerald Bordman or Geniuses of the American Music Theatre by Herbert Keyser.

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Most programs held in the Bayard Henry Long Room on the Athenaeum's first floor are amplified and assistive listening devices are available for patron use.

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