Last Saturday was the centenary of Leonard Bernstein. On social networks, we all live in a microcosm and mine is populated by music lovers, music magazines, musicians and promoters, who celebrated the anniversary of the great musician with his works, pictures, anecdotes, a lot of articles Interesting, and lots of joy and love. It was as if everyone were under the influence of his catching energy.
As you know, Bernstein is also a beloved composer on Liederabend and for that reason, I wanted to join the celebration by ending the 2017-2018 season with one of his songs that I must admit that ig goes beyond the genre. You know, sometimes in summer I take advantage of you being on holiday to make a small musical excursion.
It all started in 1949, when James M. Barrie's Peter Pan, that had been premiered in London in 1904 and would become so popular thanks to Walt Disney's film in 1953, was staged. The producers, Peter Lawrence and R. L. Stevens, commissioned Leonard Bernstein some instrumental pieces of incidental music. At that time, the composer had already made his debut as director of the New York Philharmonic and composed two symphonies and a successful musical, On the town, adapted for the cinema by Stanley Donen that year, too.
Peter Pan wasn't expected to be a musical and the actors that performed the main characters, Jean Arthur (Peter Pan) and Boris Karloff (Captain Hook) weren't singers, but the play was premiered on April 24, 1950, with five songs written by Bernstein (music and lyrics), sung by the characters of Wendy, Captain Hook, the pirates and the sirens; it was on stage for one year with great success, but then it fell into oblivion. Fortunately, it was recorded and reissued lately so we can enjoy the music of that first version.
In 2001, eleven years after Bernstein's death, conductor Alexander Frey learned that at least one of the Peter Pan's songs written by the composer wasn't included in that staging and he asked himself if other ruled out pieces would exist; He searched for, restored, coordinated the orchestrations of the unpublished parts and after a few years, in 2005, he published Peter Pan with the whole music written by Bernstein: seven songs and the incidental music that, for some reason, had been replaced by that of Alex Wilder (a name that didn't appear on the playbill) sixty years before. In fact, Bernstein had written a whole musical!
Today we're listening to one of the songs, Peter, Peter, one of the three sung by Wendy. It's a charming little song that can't be heard without a smile; I would say that the girl that wants to be the mother to the Lost Boys has fallen in love with the boy who wouldn't grow up... I'm not suggesting you listen to any of the two complete recordings but to the version by Roberta Alexander and Tan Crane included in their Bernstein Songs recording; I hope you like it! Long life to Leonard Bernstein!
You've got a smudge on your face;
Allow me, Peter, Peter,
to wipe it away;
I know it's just an old excuse to feel your touch,
But I love you very much!
Your hair is all out of place;
Allow me, Peter, Peter,
to fix it, I pray;
I have to touch you to make sure you're really real,
And I love the way you feel.
The touch of you, I'd cherish,
I long for it, night and day.
Without your touch, I'll perish,
So I've got to find, some way:
It's really true!
Believe me, Peter, Peter,
You've got a mosquito on you!
Of course, it's just a poor excuse to feel your touch,
But I want to feel your touch,
And I love you very much!