Anyone Can Whistle

Anyone Can WhistleThere’s an interesting irony at the heart of musical performance. As musicians, we spend countless hours in the practice room in order to achieve the highest level of technical control. Technical assurance gives us the freedom to let go, enter “the zone” and allow the music to come to life. We cherish the rare, exhilarating performances which rise above “good” or “technically solid” and tap into a higher energy. At these moments the music almost seems to be playing the musician. Discovering the ability to let go and overcome ego is a lifelong challenge for all of us.

Stephen Sondheim’s song, Anyone Can Whistle, may make you think about the creative process and the ability to get out of your own way. The song comes from the second act of his 1964 musical by the same name. The show closed after only nine performances, but it launched the Broadway career of Angela Lansbury. Anyone Can Whistle is sung by Lee Remick on the original cast album:″]Find on iTunes″]Find on Amazon

Anyone can whistle, that’s what they say-easy.
Anyone can whistle, any old day-easy.
It’s all so simple.
Relax, let go, let fly.
So someone tell me, why can’t I?
I can dance a tango, I can read Greek-easy.
I can slay a dragon, any old week-easy.
What’s hard is simple.
What’s natural come hard.
Maybe you could show me how to let go,
Lower my guard,
Learn to be free.
Maybe if you whistle,
Whistle for me

Notice the contour of the melody and the way it relates to the words and the character. Sondheim gives us a dissonance on the word, “hard” (1:19), evoking a feeling of “hardness”. 

Other notable songs from this show include Me and My Town There Won’t Be TrumpetsA Parade in Town, Everybody Says Don’t  and See What it Gets You. One of Sondheim’s earliest shows, you can hear echoes of his later works in the score of Anyone Can Whistle.

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.

2 thoughts on “Anyone Can Whistle”

    • I agree that this song is a somewhat forgotten gem, Linda. And it’s hard to imagine a better performance than Remick’s. She wasn’t a great singer but she conveys the drama of the song beautifully and this is the essence of Sondheim. Sondheim’s songs are windows into character.


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