Posted by: Frederick Cornwell Sanders | 2013/11/16

“November 16, ” by Rick Sanders

First page of WC Handy's "St. Louis Blues...

First page of WC Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” from the Library of Congress, Brown University Collection of African American sheet music (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1873, W. C. Handy, the American composer is born. He dies in 1958.

Wikipedia reveals:

William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a blues composer and musician.[1] He was widely known as the “Father of the Blues”.

Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music.

Handy was an educated musician who used folk material in his compositions. He was scrupulous in documenting the sources of his works, which frequently combined stylistic influences from several performers.

In 1926 Handy authored and edited a work entitled Blues: An Anthology—Complete Words and Music of 53 Great Songs. It is probably the first work that attempted to record, analyze and describe the blues as an integral part of the U.S. South and the history of the United States.

The genre of the blues was a hallmark of American society and culture in the 1920s and 1930s. So great was its influence, and so much was it recognized as Handy’s hallmark, that author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his novel The Great Gatsby that “All night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the “Beale Street Blues” while a hundred pairs of golden and silver slippers shuffled the shining dust. At the gray tea hour there were always rooms that throbbed incessantly with this low, sweet fever, while fresh faces drifted here and there like rose petals blown by the sad horns around the floor.”

 

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