Jule Styne’s “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” The Keith Jarrett Trio

Today marks the 116th anniversary of the birth of the great American songwriter, Jule Styne (1905-1994).

Born in London, Styne grew up in Chicago, the son of Jewish Ukrainian immigrants. He was a child prodigy pianist, performing with the orchestras of Chicago and Detroit before age ten. Later, he played jazz, withdrawing from the concert stage because of the limitations of his small hands. He created the scores for some of the Broadway theater’s most significant musicals, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Bells Are Ringing (1956), Gypsy (1959), Funny Girl (1963), and Hallelujah, Baby! (1967). During the same period, he wrote extensively for Hollywood films such as Three Coins in the Fountain (1954). In the middle of a Southern California heatwave, Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn wrote the Christmas standard, “Let it Snow.” He composed countless songs for Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.

Among Jule Styne’s most enduring songs is the lamenting ballad, I Fall in Love Too Easily, written for the 1945 film, Anchors Aweigh. The melody inspired this magical jazz improvisation by the Keith Jarrett Trio. The group was made up of Keith Jarrett (piano), Gary Peacock (double bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). The performance was recorded live in Tokyo on July 25, 1993.

The Original Song

I Fall in Love Too Easily was a favorite song of my friend, Jerry Goldberg, who passed away earlier this year. Jerry spent decades in the Broadway theater as a pianist and conductor, working on such notable shows as A Chorus Line. During one of our conversations, he recalled songwriting advice that he received from Frank Loesser (the composer and lyricist for Guys and Dolls). Believing that the essence of a song could be found in the simplicity of its melodic line, Loesser advised aspiring songwriters to “Stop, strip away all the harmony, and first play the single melodic line.” For Jerry Goldberg, the melodic line of I Fall in Love Too Easily captured this sublime simplicity. He described the song as a magical, frozen moment in time, which gives us a powerful sense of “completion” in its final bars:

It starts on a II chord and a V chord. We find ourselves in the middle of the song without knowing exactly how we got there. The song is a great moment in terms of where it’s placed [in the film], who is singing it, what it means, the way it develops out of the character’s thoughts…It’s the synthesis of so many elements.

Sammy Cahn, the song’s lyricist, wrote,

This song was written one night in Palm Springs. When I sang the last line, Jule Styne looked over at me and said, ‘So. That’s it.’ I knew he felt we could have written on, but I felt I had said all there was to say, and if I had it to do over, I would stop right there again.

I Fall in Love Too Easily was written for Frank Sinatra, who sang it in the 1945 film, Anchors Aweigh. Here is his recording:

Recordings

  • Keith Jarrett Trio, Live From Japan (1993) discogs.com
  • Frank Sinatra: The Columbia Years (1943-1952), The Complete Recordings: Volume 1 Amazon

Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year to all the loyal readers and subscribers of The Listeners’ Club! As 2021 draws to a close, I want to thank you for returning to this blog three times a week throughout the year, contributing to the discussion with your comments, and sharing posts with your friends. Here’s to a music-filled 2022!

Here are a few musical anniversaries that will occur in 2022:

1922

Notable completed works:

  • Symphony No. 1, Arnold Bax
  • String Quartet No. 3 in C, Op. 22, Sancta Susanna, Paul Hindemith
  • Escales, Histoires, Jacques Ibert
  • Fynsk Foraar, Wind Quintet, Carl Nielsen
  • Sonata for Horn, Trumpet, and Trombone, Francis Poulenc
  • La bella dormente nel bosco, Ottorino Respighi
  • Three Fantastic Dances, Op. 5, Suite in F-sharp minor, Op. 6, for two pianos, Dmitri Shostakovich
  • Mavra, Igor Stravinsky
  • Façade, William Walton

births: Jean-Pierre Rampal, Renata Tebaldi, Elmer Bernstein, Charles Mingus, Iannis Xenakis, Judy Garland, George Walker

1822

Notable completed works:

  • Sonata op. 111 in C minor, Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Variation on a Waltz by Diabelli, Franz Liszt
  • Concerto for Piano and Strings in A minor, Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Sinfonia for Strings No. 7 in D minor, Sinfonia for Strings No. 8 in D Major, Felix Mendelssohn
  • L’esule di Granata, Giacomo Meyerbeer
  • Wind Quintet, Op. 99 Nos. 2, 5, Anton Reicha
  • 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, Op. 22, Pierre Rode
  • Die Verschworenen, Symphony no. 8 in B minor,”Unfinished,” Wanderer Fantasy, Franz Schubert

births: César Franck

1722

Notable completed works:

  • The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, J.S. Bach
  • Pièces de clavecin, Book III, François Couperin

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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