Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary Composer Biographies

Jerome David Kern

Born: January 27, 1885 in New York City, New York, America
Died: November 11, 1945 in New York City, New York, America
Nationality: American
Era: Twentieth Century
Main genre: Musical Theatre, Popular Songs, Film Music
Main works:
Broadway Musicals:
Show Boat (1927)
Sweet Adeline (1929)
Roberta (1933) - Oscar Nomination for Best Music, Original Song
Very Warm For May (1939)
Popular Songs:
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
All The Things You Are
Look for the silver lining
They didn’t believe me
Oh Boy!
Very Good Eddie
Who?
Why do I love you
Can’t help lovin’ dat man
I’ve told ev’ry little star (Music in the Air)
The song is you (from Music in the Air)
The Last time I saw Paris
Film Music:
Roberta (1935)
Oscar Nomination for Best Music, Original Song “Lovely To Look At”
Swing Time (1936)
Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “The Way You Look Tonight”
Lady Be Good (1941)
Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song (“The Last Time I Saw Paris”)
You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
Oscar Nomination for Best Music, Original Song (“Dearly Beloved”)
Cover Girl (1944)
Oscar Nomination for Best Music, Original Song (“Long Ago and Far Away”)
Can’t Help Singing (1944)
Oscar Nomination for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture
& Oscar Nomination for Best Music, Original Song (“More and More”)
Centennial Summer (1946)
Oscar Nomination for Best Music, Original Song (“All Through The Day”)
Other Music:
Mark Twain Suite (1942)
Brief biography:

Jerome Kern was involved in music from a very young age. He studied in the US and also in Europe. His work mainly involved the piano at first and later developed into songwriting at the beginning of the 20th century. He made frequent trips to London in this period of time, and involved himself in the London theatre scene. He gained valuable contacts and experience there. His exposure and success grew significantly from 1915-1920. He involved himself with more mainstream musicals which were big hits not only in London, but in the US as well.

The 1920s were very productive for Kern, producing his most important work, Show Boat. Show Boat was the first Broadway musical to be written that showed the importance of writing songs that were an integral part of the play’s story line, rather than simply using musical theatre as another venue for hit Tin Pan Alley songs.

Kern’s work had become more widely approached and adapted by other forms such as film (Roberta 1933, filmed 1935). The musical audiences everywhere in many forms got to see different productions of Kerns work. Kern had some troubled times on Broadway in the late 1930s, so he moved to Hollywood to write for films. He had success doing this media form, and saw much success during the early 1940s. Unfortunately Kern met an unexpected death in 1945 in New York, where he was appearing for a revival of Show Boat.

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